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In letter to PM, Mamata flags vaccine, drug shortage

Banerjee also called on Modi to resign over what she claimed was a botched response to the pandemic’s second wave.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata |
April 19, 2021 4:03:20 am
Mamata Banerjee, Narendra Modi, West Bengal, Covid-19 vaccines, Mamata Banerjee letter to PM, india news, indian expressBanerjee at a rally ahead of the 6th phase of the West Bengal polls in Krishnanagar South, Nadia district, Sunday

Amid a shortage of Covid-19 vaccines and drugs, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure an adequate supply of vaccine doses, medicines and oxygen. Banerjee also called on Modi to resign over what she claimed was a botched response to the pandemic’s second wave.

In a letter, the chief minister complained about an erratic supply of vaccine doses and asked Modi for 5.4 crore shots. Banerjee reminded the prime minister about a previous request to allow the state to purchase vaccines with its funds for a “massive free [Covid-19] vaccination campaign”.

“You may recall that I had written to you on February 24, 2021, to allow the state to purchase vaccination doses directly with state funds and launch a massive free vaccination campaign in the state, covering the entire population. The state has not received the requisite clearance yet. In the meantime, the number of cases in the state has also begun to increase sharply, particularly in view of the large number of outsiders coming to the state for election campaign and other purposes at the behest of some political parties,” Banerjee wrote.

The chief minister said the “scarce and erratic” supply of vaccines had affected the inoculation drive. “While West Bengal is one of the best performers in vaccination, it is now suffering because of uncertainties of supply from the Government of India end. We have to vaccinate around 2.7 crore [people] and we need 5.4 crore doses. We request for your urgent intervention to ensure that the state gets its requirement of vaccine doses fulfilled at the earliest,” she added.

The Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief said doctors in West Bengal were concerned about the “extremely scarce and uncertain” supply of Remdesivir and Tocilizumab, and added, “We need around 6,000 vials of Remdesivir and 1,000 vials of Tocilizumab daily. However, at present, only 1,000 vials of Remdesivir are available daily and no fresh supply of Tocilizumab is coming. It may kindly be seen that the relevant authorities step up their efforts to ensure a steady supply of these most essential medicines as soon as possible.”

Banerjee emphasised that a steady supply of medical oxygen must be ensured. “The supply of oxygen also, as you know, must be assured and certain. SAIL is meeting up our need for the moment and we shall be grateful if you kindly instruct them too for ensuring steady supplies,” she told the prime minister.

The chief minister emphasised that vaccination was of utmost importance. “Particularly in our state, and more particularly in metropolitan Kolkata, where the density of population is extremely high, focused and aggressive vaccination is extremely important,” she said.

Earlier in the day, at an event in Barrackpore, Banerjee demanded Modi’s resignation. “For the rise in Covid-19 cases, PM Modi has to resign. He is responsible for the present situation.”

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