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The Union government said it is coordinating with vaccine manufacturers and will soon decide on the allocation of doses to states after the failure of state authorities to strike direct purchase deals with Pfizer and Moderna for their covid vaccines.

Some state governments, including Delhi and Punjab, have alleged that both vaccine manufacturers have refused to sell them covid vaccines because they are dealing directly with the central government.

According to reports, Pfizer has clarified that it will supply doses directly to central governments and supra-national organizations for the deployment of its vaccine to other countries.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday said the two US firms refused to sell vaccines directly to his state on the grounds that it will deal with the central government alone.

Lav Agarwal, joint secretary, Union health ministry, said, “Whether it is Pfizer or Moderna, at the central level, we have been coordinating with them and are facilitating them in two ways—one is the regulatory facilitation in terms of approval and the second is procurement-related facilitation."

“Also, order book of both Pfizer and Moderna is full, so it depends on their surplus that how much they can provide in India. They will come back on it to the Centre and we will help in facilitation to states," he added.

Meanwhile, India recorded 222,315 covid-19 cases and 4,454 deaths in the past 24 hours. Ten states reported 81.08% of the new cases, led by Tamil Nadu (35,483) and Maharashtra (26,672). Ten states account for 79.52% of the deaths, led by Maharashtra (1,320) and Karnataka (624).

Agarwal said a steady decline in daily new cases has been observed for the past 17 days.

“There has been 2.6 times increase in covid tests across the country in the past 15 weeks, while a steady decline in weekly case positivity rate since the past two weeks has been noted. The weekly positivity rate has declined from 20.28% recorded between 20 to 26 April to 12.09% recorded between 18 to 24 May," he said.

During the 27th virtual meeting of the high-level group of ministers (GoM) on covid-19, Dr Sujeet K. Singh, director, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), presented a detailed report on the trajectory of covid-19 in the states and UTs. “At 7.86%, India’s growth rate of coronavirus cases is a matter of concern," said Singh.

Union health minister Harsh Vardhan, who chaired the GoM, said over 25,739 samples have been sequenced and the variant B.1.617 has been found in 5,261 samples, making it the most common mutation detected till now.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that three researchers at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology sought hospital care in November 2019, months before China disclosed the covid-19 pandemic to the World Health Organization (WHO), citing a previously undisclosed US intelligence report. The newspaper said the report—which provides fresh details on the number of researchers affected, the timing of their illnesses and their hospital visits—may add weight to calls for a broader probe of whether the covid-19 virus could have escaped from the Wuhan laboratory.

“There have been various reports from various agencies on the origin of the virus and multilateral agencies have conducted research, particularly the WHO. Their team has gone and personally checked. We will also get clarity after the WHO and other agencies come out with their reports and we will see what bigger picture emerges after this," said Agarwal.

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