The central government will come up with new guidelines after discussions with states

The central government will provide free vaccines to states for all above 18 years starting from June 21.

Announcing a centralised vaccination drive during an address to the nation on Monday, PM Modi said that all Covid-19 vaccine doses will be procured by the central government and given to the states for free.

With this, 25% of vaccination procurement work which was being done by the states will also be handled by the center, which was already purchasing and allocating 50% of the vaccines manufactured in the country to states free of charge.

Private hospitals will have access to the remaining 25% of vaccine doses that are produced.

The Prime Minister, however, announced a cap on service charge on vaccines by private hospitals at Rs 150.

During his address, PM Modi explained that the center will take over the inoculation procedure, and come up with new guidelines after discussions with state governments over the next few weeks.

On vaccine availability, the prime minister assured that supply will increase in the coming days with seven companies already manufacturing vaccines, and three other vaccine trials in advanced stage. To increase vaccine availability, the process of procuring vaccines from abroad has been speeded up, he added.

Regarding concerns about vaccination of children - an age group that has been increasingly affected by the virus with the respective waves, and is yet to be inoculated, PM Modi announced that there are currently two vaccines under trial that are specifically meant for this age group.

The Prime Minister recalled that the Vaccine Task Force was constituted when there were just a few thousand Covid-19 cases and vaccine companies were supported by the government in all possible ways in trials and funding for research and development.

He dwelled on the differing views from various quarters on the vaccination drive.

As the corona cases started declining, questions arose about the lack of choice for states and some people questioned why the central government is deciding everything.

India has been battling the deadly second wave of the pandemic since the beginning of April. For weeks, the daily active cases touched the 4 lakh mark; however, it has now started remaining under 2 lakh mark.

The poorest of the poor was the most impacted by the second wave. Keeping this in mind, the Prime Minister announced the extension of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana till Diwali. He said that 80 crore poor will be provided free ration, under the scheme.

The second wave took the entire nation by utter shock, taking thousands of lives and flooding the social media with emergency calls. Amid this, the center has faced criticism for not being able to manage the call of the nation at a time of the emergency.

Recalling the unprecedented rise in the demand for the medical oxygen during the second wave during the months of April and May, the Prime Minister said that the challenge was met at the war footing deploying all the systems of the government.

In the history of India, this level of demand for medical oxygen was never experienced, said PM Modi.