Commenting on the announcements made by the Prime Minister today on moving towards a centralised vaccine procurement policy, Mr Uday Shankar, President, FICCI said, “Hon’ble Prime Minister’s decision today to move to centralised vaccine procurement system and provide vaccine free of cost to the states for universal vaccination is a great move. FICCI was advocating a centralised approach to vaccination and this announcement will remove the confusion and accelerate the process of vaccine procurement. The decision by the PM to let the private sector continue with procuring 25 percent vaccine and administer with a cap of Rs 150 on service charge brings in clarity. Going forward, logistics costs may need to be factored in case of those vaccines which require extensive cold chain logistics. It is very encouraging to note PM’s assurance of more vaccine supply in the near future with particular mention of two more vaccines in the pipeline, 7 more firms in process of making vaccines, efforts to get vaccines from abroad and trial for nasal vaccine. With a concerted effort by all it is possible to bring forward the timelines announced by the PM.”
“We also welcome the extension of free ration under the PMGKAY until Diwali. At this hour of crisis, support to BPL families remains critical,” added Mr Shankar.
“On the vaccine front, the centralised procurement and free distribution will indeed help allay the uncertainties and accelerate the vaccination process for the age group below 45 years that have been super spreaders. The assurance by the Hon’ble Prime Minister on enhanced supply of vaccines in the coming days is encouraging for the industry who are looking at getting their employees, and their families, vaccinated at the earliest. Industry also commends the collaborative efforts being made with various vaccine manufacturers; the support being provided to Indian manufacturers as well as the promotion of research for new products including the intranasal vaccine. These steps will help us not just for tackling the current crisis but will bring in a paradigm shift in the research and manufacturing of essential biopharmaceuticals in the country. FICCI is committed to immunization of maximum people to help tackle the 3rd wave,” said Mr Shankar.
It also remains important to significantly enhance the pace of vaccination. If India wants to cover at least 80 percent of the population above 18 years of age by the end of this year, then it must increase its vaccination rate by about 100 million doses/month. At the current rate of vaccination, which is about 2.2 million doses administered per day, only 30 percent of the eligible population will be vaccinated fully by the end of this year.
“The industry also supports the suggestion for citizens, especially the youth, to come forward to help the needy through small committees in their areas and create awareness about COVID protocols. FICCI has been advocating for COVID appropriate behaviour in the community and has been working in collaboration with members at the community level to generate COVID awareness,” said Mr Shankar.
“Lastly, the second wave of the pandemic has been devastating and several families are staring at permanent impairment to income due to lost jobs as well as families that have lost bread earners to covid, FICCI suggests a cash transfer of Rs 5,000 for three months to as many below poverty line (BPL) households as can be reached with the existing digital infrastructure, including but not limited to ‘Jan Dhan’ accounts’,” added Mr Shankar.