Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday suggesting five ways to fight the pandemic stressing that the expansion of Covid vaccination programme forms a big part of the pandemic management and we resist the temptation to look at absolute numbers vaccinated and instead focus on percentage of population vaccinated.
The five-point remedy are as below:
- Publicise Covid vaccine orders placed for next 6 months
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,” Manmohan Singh said.
- Indicate how this expected supply will be distributed across states
The government should indicate how this expected supply will be distributed across states based on a transparent formula. The central government could retain 10 per cent 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,” he said.
- States should be given some flexibility to define frontline workers’
Manmohan suggested that the Centre should allow state governments some freedom to define frontline workers, who can be vaccinated even if they are under the age of 45.
“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 suggested.
- Support vaccine producers to expand their manufacturing facilities
He suggested that the centre must proactively support vaccine producers to expand their manufacturing facilities quickly by providing funds and other concessions.
“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 license. This, I recall, had happened earlier in the case of medicines to deal with the HIV/AIDS disease,” he said.
- Any vaccine that has been cleared for use should be allowed to be imported
“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 imprted without insisting on domestic bridging trials,” he said.