Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has announced that the state government will purchase Covid vaccine from the manufactures. “We have requested the Centre to provide the vaccine free of cost. We haven’t got any response from the Centre, but we are confident about a positive outcome. However, we can’t wait. If we wait until the Centre’s decision, it may be too late. Hence, the decision to go for direct purchase from the vaccine manufacturers,’’ he said. Vijayan said be it the Centre or the state that provides the vaccine supply, what is important is that people are vaccinated. The Centre can later reimburse the cost of the vaccine purchased by the state, he suggested.
However, the state’s decision to administer the Covid vaccine free of cost irrespective of the price charged by the companies might cause the state government to face liability of crores as the central government has changed its policy and decided to charge a high price for the vaccine. Serum Institute of India which produces the Covishield vaccine, announced that they would begin distribution of the vaccine to State governments for Rs 400 per doses and Rs 600 per dose at private hospitals. Covaxin manufacturer Bharat Biotech is yet to announce its rate.
Meanwhile, several Malayalis have voluntarily donated the vaccine cost to the CM’s Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF) as part of a #VaccineChallenge. Many have shared screenshots of their contribution to the CMDRF and challenging others to do the same. The challenge follows close on the heels of the Kerala CM expressing his concern over the Centre’s change in the vaccine policy. The campaign is largely being pushed by Left-affiliated groups with hash tags such as 'Stand with Kerala’, 'CMDRF challenge' and 'Donate for vaccine.' Many taking part in these challenges are protesting against the Centre's vaccine policy as well as backing Pinarayi Vijayan's stand.
According to media reports, the CMDRF has received over Rs 22 lakhs so far.