Coronavirus: Manmohan Singh stressed on ramping up the vaccination drive to defeat the coronavirus pandemic
Veteran Congress leader Manmohan Singh has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to allow states to define categories of frontline workers that need to be vaccinated against Covid on priority “even if they are below 45 years of age”. Asking the centre to place “enough” vaccine orders in advance, Mr Singh, in a letter, said the distribution of jabs among states should be based on a “transparent formula”.
“States should be given some flexibility to define categories of frontline workers who can be vaccinated even if they are below 45 years of age. For example, states may want to designate schoolteachers, 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 said in the letter.
As of now, the centre only allows vaccinations of those aged 45 or above.
The former prime minister stressed on ramping up the vaccination drive to defeat the coronavirus pandemic and said the centre must proactively support vaccine producers in expanding their manufacturing facilities by providing funds and other concessions.
“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. 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,” he wrote.
He said the centre should retain only 10 per cent of this expected supply for emergency needs. “…other than that, states should have a clear signal of likely availability so that they can plan their roll out,” he said.
Mr Singh said the government should allow several companies to produce the vaccines under a licence to increase production. He also urged the centre to allow vaccines made by foreign companies in the country without bridging trials.
India has been reporting over 2 lakh coronavirus cases for the last few days amid the second wave of infections.
Experts say rapid vaccinations will help in avoiding future Covid waves and saving lives.
Several states, including worst-hit Maharashtra, have demanded they be allowed to vaccinate other age groups as well. They, however, have been complaining of shortages in vaccine supplies.
Mr Singh’s party, the Congress, says the centre should have been better prepared for the second wave.