“The central government could retain 10% for distribution based on emergency needs, but other than that, the states should have a clear signal of likely availability so that they can plan their rollout,” Manmohan Singh said.
Former PM Manmohan Singh wrote to PM Narendra Modi on Sunday, suggesting special measures to ramp up India’s vaccination capacity to fight the Covid-19 second wave. He called upon the Centre to actively tap into the private sector’s vaccine production capacity through fund infusion and pushed for invoking the compulsory licensing provisions in the law so that many companies are able to produce the vaccine under a licence
Since domestic supplies of vaccines are limited, Singh also suggested any vaccine that has been cleared for use by credible authorities, such as European Medicines Agency (EMA) or the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA), should be allowed to be imported without insisting on domestic bridging trials for a limited period. He also asked the Centre to make public the orders placed and assurance received on vaccine delivery for the next six months and sought more functional autonomy to the states on vaccination storage and distribution and in expanding the list of frontline workers by lowering the age cap.
Forwarding his suggestions to the Prime Minister in “a spirit of constructive cooperation”, Singh wrote that the “government should publicise what are the firm orders for doses placed on different vaccine producers and accepted for delivery over the next six months” and said if “we want to vaccinate a target number in this period, we should place enough orders in advance so that producers can adhere to an agreed schedule of supply”.
After Saturday’s CWC meeting, the Congress leadership had said Singh would be writing to the PM, conveying his and the CWC members’ collective suggestions on combating the Covid-19 second wave.
Singh said: “The central government could retain 10% for distribution based on emergency needs, but other than that, the states should have a clear signal of likely availability so that they can plan their rollout.”
Singh also pitched for giving the states some flexibility to define categories of frontline workers. “For example, states may want to designate school teachers, bus, three-wheeler and taxi drivers, municipal and panchayat staff, and possibly lawyers who have to attend courts as frontline workers. They can then be vaccinated even if they are below 45,” he wrote to Modi.
( Originally published on Apr 18, 2021 )