CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu government has reached out to US civil rights leader Jesse Jackson (Sr) to help ensure that at least 60 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines from the excess reserves in the US are shipped to India at the earliest.
In an appeal to Jackson on the direction of CM MK Stalin, Finance Minister Dr Palanivel Thiaga Rajan held a zoom call meeting on May 21, and urged Jackson to request US President Joe Biden to expeditiously release an allotment of AstraZeneca vaccines for India (including a portion earmarked to the State of Tamil Nadu) from the 80 million vaccines that the US has offered to donate to foreign countries, according to a statement issued by the Rainbow Push Coalition.
The statement quoting the Finance Minister saying that Tamil Nadu has inexplicably received a very low allotment of vaccines, as a proportion to its population (6.5% compared to around 16.5% for Gujarat for example). It appears that additional allotments in the future are not likely either. Therefore, the only possibility of mitigation is the acquisition of a large quantity of vaccines from abroad, he had stated.
The finance minister stated that Tamil Nadu has the best medical infrastructure with one medical doctor for every 300-400 people, and access to primary Health Care in almost every village. This can ensure that mass vaccinations of AstraZeneca will be administered effectively in a timely manner, he said.
On Monday, Jesse Jackson Sr., conveyed a personal message to the Chief Minister: "Help is on the way. We stand by you. Keep hope alive. We will do our best to ensure that the state of Tamil Nadu gets its due share of covid vaccines soon.”
According to a release from Rainbow Push Coalition, Jackson Sr., founder and president, Rainbow Push Coalition, along with Dr Vijay G Prabhakar, National Chairman, American Association of Multi Ethnic Physicians, United States and the Global Ambassador of Rainbow Push Coalition are camping at Washington to ensure that the vaccines are shipped to India.
Dr. Vijay Prabhakar, Rainbow Push Coalition’s Global Ambassador & President of World Federation of Tamil Nadu, informed the Finance Minister that Jackson Sr., is in touch with US President and Vice President Kamala Harris to facilitate state governments' of India being able to purchase AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson vaccines from the manufacturers.
It is learnt that during the interaction, the Finance Minister explained the History and Evolution of the Dravidian movement in South India and drew a parallel with the US Civil Rights movement. He stated his deep respect and admiration for Rev Jesse Jackson Sr’s life-long efforts for civil rights, and as the fourth-generation of his family to work for the Dravidian ideals of Social Justice and Inclusive Growth stated it was a great privilege to meet and work with Reverend Jackson Sr. on this initiative.
Parthiban Shanmugam, General Secretary, World Federation of Tamil Youth, Atlanta, Georgia, Padmanabhan Venkatesan, Treasurer, World Federation of Tamil Youth, Phoenix, Arizona, Alli Dhanaraj, Deputy General Secretary, World Federation of Tamil Youth, Neperville, Illinois, Vijayakumar Jaganathan, Executive Vice President, World Federation of Tamil Youth, Indian Chapter, Bangalore, India, and Shree Gurusamy, Human Services Chair, U.S Congressman Danny K. Davis’s Multi Ethnic Advisory Task Force took part in the zoom meeting.