New Delhi: Underlining that the coronavirus pandemic is the “biggest epidemic of the century”, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said requested the central government to ensure all Indians get vaccinated free of cost.
“The coronavirus pandemic is the biggest epidemic of the century. It is very important to protect our people from this. I request the Central Government that the vaccine should be provided free of cost to all countrymen. The expenditure on this will be helpful in saving the lives of many Indians,” Mr Kejriwal tweeted in Hindi.
The demand comes a week after the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led state government announced free COVID-19 jabs for all Delhi residents.
The AAP is the latest in a growing list of political parties to demand free and mass vaccination, instead of only covering healthcare, frontline workers and those in the high-risk group as the centre has planned for now.
The centre’s December announcement to not vaccinate India’s entire population invited sharp criticism from netizens and opposition parties, including the Shiv Sena and Congress; they called it politicisation of a necessity amid a pandemic.
They also questioned the BJP pre-poll promise in Bihar — free vaccine for all in state if the party came to power.
“What about non-BJP ruled states? Indians who didn’t vote BJP will not get a free Covid vaccine?” the Aam Aadmi Party had questioned.
Most recently, in his letter to the Prime Minister, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel had said: “I urge you that for this Chhattisgarh, a tribal dominated state, should be given priority for being included in the first phase and vaccine should be made available for free.”
The centre has said it would pay for the coronavirus vaccine for healthcare and frontline workers, who are expected to start getting the two-jab dose soon.
At least one of the two approved vaccines – Covishield and Covaxin – are expected to become commercially available around middle of this year if the centre allows.
India has 1.04 crore cases with 1.5 lakh deaths with daily caseload seeing a declining trend since the first wave peaked out in September at almost 97,000 fresh infections a day.
(The story is derived from a syndicated feed and Team TOV has not made any amendments to it.)