The BJP-ruled Karnataka government would soon decide on providing a free vaccine to treat the novel coronavirus, Deputy Chief Minister Dr CN Ashwath Narayan said on Sunday.
"A meeting has been convened here after Dasara to decide on the free distribution of vaccine to treat the Covid pandemic, as and when the central government makes it available for the state," the Dy CM said.
On the Centre's directive last week, the state government has already decided to give the vaccine free first to its healthcare warriors, including doctors, nurses, paramedics and their associates who have been treating patients across the state since mid-March when the pandemic broke.
"As COVID-19 patients are already being tested and treated free in state-run hospitals, they will be administered the vaccine free of charge. The Chief Minister will decide on giving it free for all," reiterated Narayan.
Clamour for making the vaccine available free for all in the state gathered momentum after the BJP's manifesto for the Bihar assembly elections from October 28 promised to provide it free to the people in the northern state.
Opposition Congress leader Siddaramaiah also urged the state government to declare a free vaccine to the people across the state as the ruling party has promised in its poll manifesto in Bihar.
"As the BJP has made providing vaccine free an election issue in Bihar, its government in the state should also declare it free for the Karnataka people," asserted Siddaramaiah in Kannada.
As Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is a Rajya Sabha member from Karnataka, the Congress said she should extend the benefit to the people in the southern state.
"Of the 28 Lok Sabha members from the state, as 25 are from the ruling BJP, they should ensure that vaccine to treat COVID-19 is made available free to our people too," said Siddaramaiah.
At least three vaccine candidates are at the advance stage of trials for treating the virus, which infected over 78 lakh people, and claimed lives of 1.8-lakh people across the country, while 6.77-lakh are under treatment across the state and over 71-lakh people have recovered.
In Karnataka, 7,98,378 tested positive, including 86,749 under treatment till date, while 7,00,737 recovered and 10,873 succumbed to the infection so far.