Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

Various opposition party leaders have been writing to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the COVID-19 sitauion in India, some of them complaining about it while few suggesting about certain measures to be taken to curb the spread of virus. Now, former prime minister and Congress leader Manmohan Singh has written to Modi suggesting him for consideration of a few advices that may help to tackle the situation in country.

In his two paged letter, Dr Manmohan Singh has highlighted five points before the PM. He wrote, there are many things we must do to fight the epidemic but a big part of this effort must be ramping up the vaccination programme. Here's a look at his suggestions to the Central government:

First, 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.

Second, the government should indicate how this expected supply will be distributed across states based on a transparent formula. The central government could retain 10 percent for distribution based on emergency needs, but other than that states should have a clear signal of likely availability so that they can plan their roll out

Third, 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 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.

Fourth, over the past few decades, India has emerged as the largest vaccine producer in the world, thanks to policies adopted by the government and robust intellectual property protection. The capacity is largely in the private sector. At this moment of a public health emergency, the Government of India must proactively support vaccine producers to expand their manufacturing facilities quickly by providing funds and other concessions. In addition, I believe this is the time to invoke the compulsory licensing provisions in the law, so that a number of companies are able to produce the vaccines under a licence. This, I recall, had happened earlier in the case of medicines to deal with the HIV/AIDS disease. As far as Covid-19 is concerned, I have read that Israel has already invoked the compulsory licensing provision and there is an overwhelming case for India to do so as well quickly.

Fifth, since domestic supplies are limited, any vaccine that has been cleared for use by credible authorities such as the European Medical Agency or the USFDA should be allowed to be imported without insisting on domestic bridging trials We are facing an unprecedented emergency and I understand, experts are of the view that this relaxation is justified in an emergency The relaxation could be for a limited period during which the bridging trials could be completed in India. All consumers of such vaccines could be duly cautioned that these vaccines are being allowed for use based on the approval granted by the relevant authority abroad.

India appears to be setting a new record every day when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the last four days, the single day case tally has reached dizzying heights, repeatedly breaching the two lakh mark. Data from the Health Ministry on Sunday morning indicated that in the last 24 hours, a whopping 2,61,500 new cases had been reported. At the same time, there were 1,38,423 discharges and 1,501 deaths in the last 24 hours.

As of Sunday morning, India's total active caseload has crossed 18.01 lakh. Maharashtra continues to lead the charts.

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal

www.freepressjournal.in