Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Thursday said that COVID-19 vaccines would be free for all people in the state once it was ready. "Everybody in Tamil Nadu will be given the vaccine for free. As soon as the vaccine is available, the Tamil Nadu government will give it to everyone for free," the CM said while speaking in Pudukkottai district. However, Tamil Nadu goes to polls in May 2021, and if the vaccine is ready only after that, then the party that comes to power will have to make the decision. It also remains to be seen if the DMK or AIADMK led fronts will make this a poll promise.
The announcement came hours after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in its poll manifesto for the upcoming Bihar Assembly elections promised to distribute the vaccine free of cost once it was ready. "As soon as the COVID-19 vaccine is available for mass production, every person in Bihar will get free vaccination. This is the first promise of our election manifesto," Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said. The BJP has been facing a lot of flak for making free vaccine a poll promise, but the party defended its move stating that health was a subject under the state government.
Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu reported just over 3,000 new coronavirus cases for a second straight day on Wednesday. Results of a serosurvey showed that nearly one-third of the population in Chennai has been exposed to the pathogen. The results of the second serosurvey conducted in the city recently to detect the transmission of coronavirus showed an overall positivity rate of 32.3%, authorities said. The first phase of the survey, with a sample size of around 12,000, had revealed (on September 1) that a fifth of the population (21.5%) in the metropolis had been exposed to the pathogen.
On Wednesday, the state logged 3,086 new cases taking the total tally of those infected till now to 6.97 lakh while the death toll touched 10,780 with 39 more deaths. Chennai added 845 new cases to its tally, taking its infection count to 1.92 lakh. A health department bulletin said that 6.50 lakh people had been discharged so far. The active cases stand at 35,480.
In India, two vaccine candidates are in phase two of trials, while one is in phase three.
Watch EPS's speech below.
With PTI inputs
COVID-19 vaccine: Where some of the most promising trials stand
BJP promises 'free COVID-19 vaccines' in Bihar poll manifesto, triggers row