NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to detail by Thursday the steps it has taken to augment oxygen supply to states, smooth inter-state transportation of oxygen tankers, ramping up production of Remdesivir and plans to increase vaccine production. A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud, L N Rao and S R Bhat also asked the Centre to explain the rationale behind the differential pricing of Covishield and Covaxin vaccines for the Centre, states and open market.
It will hear the Centre’s plan of action on Friday.
With the spiralling surge in Covid-19 cases exerting immense pressure on the inadequate health infrastructure in almost all states, especially populous ones, the bench asked solicitor general Tushar Mehta to detail the steps taken by the government for equitable distribution of oxygen to states, enhancement of critical medical infrastructure, projected requirement of medical personnel in view of the anticipated spike in Covid-19 cases and availability of essential drugs such as Remdesivir and Favipiravir.
Mehta said oxygen distribution was being monitored by a high-level committee with direct intervention of the PM and the home minister. The bench suggested that there should be coordination committees till the district level for smooth availability of oxygen and essential medicines to patients and for projecting the estimated requirements for the next week.
The bench also asked the Centre to detail steps taken to increase the production of vaccines to meet the surge in demand that would be witnessed once the eligibility age drops to 18 from May 1.
The SC also suggested to the Centre to examine the usefulness of creating a nation-wide panel of medical professionals who could on a daily basis answer queries of mildly affected patients and the general public about dos and don’ts during home quarantine and general precautions to be observed while staying at home.