Paediatrician’s petition also prays for deregulation of supply of essential drugs
Reflecting the State government’s claim that certain anomalies in the Central government’s policy is hampering its COVID-19 vaccination drive, P. Subrahmanya Sastry, a Guntur-based paediatrician, has filed a PIL in the Andhra Pradesh High Court, appealing for a direction to the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech to supply the vaccines directly without being hindered by the policy framework of the Union of India.
The petition is scheduled to come up for hearing by a Vacation Bench on May 14.
Dr. Sastry also prayed for a direction to the Union government to deregulate the supply of essential drugs such as Remdesivir to enable the State government to procure them from the manufacturers, or instruct the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and the Department of Pharmaceuticals to allocate sufficient number of vials of Remdesivir and Tocilizumab, and to ensure the supply of 700 tonnes of oxygen per day keeping in view the anticipated increase in the COVID-19 infections.
In his PIL, Dr. Sastry said the quantity and date of supply of vaccines to the States was under the firm control of the Central government, as a result of which the States were unable to procure the vaccines from the manufacturers in spite of their financial preparedness and readiness in terms of transportation and storage.
The State’s vaccination drive in two categories (people older than 45 years, to which priority is given, and those aged between 18 and 45) cannot be completed if the Centre continued to call the shots in the allocation of vaccines, the petitioner observed.
Dr. Sastry further argued that the allotment of essential drugs to the States was disproportionate to the respective caseloads.
For example, Gujarat, which had about 1,46,500 active cases of COVID-19 last week, got approximately 4.19 lakh Remdesivir injections against 2.35 lakh injections allotted to Andhra Pradesh for nearly 1.87 lakh active cases.
“As far as oxygen availability is concerned, Andhra Pradesh has a clear shortfall of 200 tonnes out of the total 428 tonnes allotted by the Centre,” he said.