With West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee seeking a uniform vaccination policy for the country, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Friday assured her that the Centre was firm in its resolve to help the state fight the COVID-19 pandemic, but also flagged more than 40 per cent positivity rate in some districts of the state. Vardhan also asked the West Bengal chief minister to focus on conducting more tests to detect infections in the state. In a four-page letter addressed to her and posted on his Twitter timeline, the health minister congratulated Banerjee for her victory in the recently held assembly elections.
Referring to her letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on “further requirements for COVID-19 management in West Bengal”, the minister said the Centre has been supporting each and every state “not just financially, but also through requisite diagnostics, therapeutics, medical devices and other essential materials and services”. He further flagged a high positivity rate of over 40 per cent in some districts of West Bengal and asserted that testing needed to be significantly ramped up.
“Similarly, we will need to augment the health infrastructure in the state significantly,” he wrote. The letter came on a day when the West Bengal government moved the Supreme Court seeking directions to disband Phase-III vaccine policy of the Centre and adoption of a uniform policy of procuring 100 per cent doses of COVID-19 from vaccine manufacturers for equitable distribution to all the states and Union territories for free decentralised distribution.
The state government also sought setting aside the differential pricing mechanism for COVID-19 vaccines and capping the price for the vaccines at a uniform price of Rs 150 per dose. The plea in the apex court followed letters written by Banerjee to Modi on various requirements listed by her for fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.