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Will go by scientific advice on Covid vaccine, don’t have many answers yet: Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said India would go by scientific advice in respect of Covid-19 vaccine and answers to questions related to the vaccine were not yet available.

Speaking to chief ministers of eight worst Covid-affected states, the PM said a comprehensive plan for vaccine administration rollout would soon be ready and asked states to set up steering committees and structures down to block level to ensure inoculation as and when the vaccine came.

The PM, however, made it clear that he did not yet have answers on vaccine dosage, pricing or sourcing although the government was in touch with local and global developers, nations and multilateral institutions to ensure vaccine procurement.

The PM was speaking a day after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted saying the PM should tell the country which vaccine India would use.

Addressing CMs of Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Delhi, Bengal, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Maharashtra, the PM expressed grave concern on what he called “widespread carelessness around Covid-19 precautions”.

The laxity over Covid is widespread, said the PM, terming resurgence in some states as worrisome.

The PM said while the vaccine planning progressed there could be no complacency regarding practising Covid-appropriate behaviour.

“The carelessness around Covid-19 precautions is widespread. We have to absolutely reawaken the people to the dangers of the virus. Let’s not forget India has emerged from a deep ocean of crisis and we don’t want to drown in shallow waters. So I urge the states to step up awareness campaigns and reduce fatality rate below 1 per cent and positivity rate under 5 per cent. The share of RTPCR in Covid testing must increase,” the PM told the CMs.

He said the development of Covid vaccine was at final stages but many questions were yet to be answered. “We will go by scientific advice on the issue,” the PM said noting that India is in touch with all stakeholders.

“But it is not yet final as to what vaccine dosage would help, what the pricing would be. We don’t have answers to these questions. There are issues here. Corporate completions, the nation’s involvement at diplomatic level. There are many interests at play,” the PM said.

He said India had to move on Covid vaccine front from a global perspective.

“We are in touch with Indian developers, global developers, multilateral institutions and nations. We have created mechanisms for wide engagement across levels. After the vaccine comes our priority would be to reach the vaccine to all. Smooth systematic and sustainable vaccination campaign is the challenge, and we will all have to work as a team,” he said.

The PM said India would have a huge role in vaccine production. “Indian experience on vaccines is vast, one which no other nation has. We can deliver vaccines with speed safety. Our vaccines will be top on all standards,” assured the PM.

He said priority groups for vaccine administration would be fixed based on state inputs and added that additional cold storage must be created by states.

Preparations must start on augmenting cold storage, the PM advised. He said a “comprehensive plan on vaccine delivery will soon be ready. The Centre has asked states to create steering committees and task forces till block level. Committees must meet and get trained.

We have to create vaccine administration efforts while we fight Covid,” he said.