Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the nation this evening, at a time Covid cases are on the wane after a deadly surge in May and parts of the country are emerging from strict lockdowns.
Reports suggest the Prime Minister may speak on his government’s vaccine plan.
The Centre’s vaccine policy has been criticized by states and has also been questioned by the Supreme Court amid shortages and a slow roll-out that is worrying as experts warn of a third wave of Covid.
When India was devastated by a massive virus caseload in the second wave in April-May, the government had to pause exports of Covid shots under its “Vaccine Maitri” programme and scrambled to procure more doses to tackle shortage in the country.
Under a new liberalised policy that came into effect on May 1, states and private hospitals were allowed to buy vaccines directly from manufacturers. At the same time, the Centre opened vaccinations to all adults and said it would continue to offer free inoculations for those above 45.
The Supreme Court last week called the policy of free vaccines for people who are 45 and above and paid doses for the 18-44 group, “arbitrary and irrational”.
Flagging other flaws like problems faced by rural people in accessing vaccines, the court asked the centre to review its policy and “place on record a roadmap of projected availability of vaccines till 31 December 2021”. The Centre was asked to furnish complete details on its vaccination policy, including all documents and file notings, and also clarify how ₹ 35,000 crore announced in the Budget was used in procuring vaccines.
On Saturday, the Centre defended its vaccine policy and said media reports suggesting inequities in the distribution of doses were “inaccurate and speculative”. It said the policy had reduced the “operational stress” on state-run vaccination facilities.