Free food to 80 crores, free vaccines to all

Putting all the confusion , speculations, apprehensions and uncertainties to rest in respect of the vaccine drive as it progressed smoothly to reach the stage of targeting the age group of above 18 to 45 years which witnessed most of the states aspiring to do it on their own as Health being the State subject, Prime Minister announced a major shift in its vaccination policy to take it entire on the Central Government in respect of procurement as well as free supply to states . It may be recalled that many states wanted to exercise their right to autonomy under the federal structure of the country by procuring it and then inoculating the people even choosing which vaccine they could opt to purchase directly. The 50-25-25 percent formula for centre, states and the private sector respectively shall now be 75 percent of all vaccines going to be procured by the centre and states with nothing but retaining 25 percent for the private sector. Politics, misinformation, confusion, and mixing of avoidable things with the noble cause of vaccination drive notwithstanding , the much needed and the major shift in vaccination policy, as announced by the Prime Minister, deserves to be welcome and appreciated.
The address to the nation by the Prime Minister on June 7 touching the most important issue of vaccination can be seen as dealing with many important issues . One- it has bailed out the states both of pricing as well as affordability of purchasing . Two- it has put to rest all avoidable controversies dictated more by political considerations than ostensibly by the need to vaccinate more people and that too speedily. Three – the 25 percent share of procurement of vaccines by the states would now be the concern of the centre in entirety. Four- whether at this or that price whatsoever the vaccine procurement , states need not now bother about that as it will be the centre’s responsibility to purchase and distribute the same to states. Five – as all the age groups received the jabs free of cost , now the group of 18- 45 years too is going to get it quite free thus a uniformity in no charging is aimed at which is really a great relief to this group . One more notable announcement that of allocating 25 percent to private sector about which pricing and service charges too have been announced , would go a long way in lessening the pressure on the states run vaccination programmes as those who could afford to pay and would save on standing in queues and other inconveniences of time etc , could approach private Health institutions and get vaccinated.
Other feature of the revised policy is that price differentials of procurement between states and between states and the centre would be nowhere now and now instead of fanning controversies or the complaints of states about stocks insufficient or other problems related thereto , the focus should now be on how more and more people got vaccinated looking to the experts warning that an imminent third wave of the corona-virus could follow the current second wave which , however, has of late, shown signs of subsiding . We would expect that the shift in the vaccination policy should be made more practical and innovative by well planned decentralised distribution as on that count, no room should be given for any controversies. All set, now, to see a new phase of vaccination with effect from June 21 as also to hear some positive encouraging news about 3 more vaccines being in the pipeline and in advanced stage of trials and efficacy levels would further arm the country to fight the pandemic effectively . Also, a nasal spray vaccine, an indigenous one, if successful, could give a new face and new boost to vaccination drive in the country.
Another very significant announcement by the Prime Minister in his address to the nation about free ration under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana of free food grains standing extended up to the festival of Deepawali or ending November of this year, is again a significant decision of the Government . Nearly more than 80 crore of population would be benefitted by the free ration scheme aiming at “no one should go to bed hungry”, as the PM put it.