Former prime minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday wrote a letter to prime minister Narendra Modi suggesting several ways to fight Covid-19 pandemic in the country, which is currently in its second wave.
In his letter, the former Prime Minister stressed that the expansion of Covid vaccination programme forms a big part of pandemic management and we must resist the temptation to look at absolute numbers vaccinated and instead focus on percentage of population vaccinated.
The veteran Congress leader said he is certain that with the right policy design, “we can do much better and very quickly”.
Here’s Manmohan’s five-point remedy to battle Covid-19 crisis
1. 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.
2.’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.
3.’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.
4.’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 licence. This, I recall, had happened earlier in the case of medicines to deal with the HIV/AIDS disease,” he said.
The former PM gave the example of Israel, which has already invoked the compulsory licensing provision.
5.’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 imported without insisting on domestic bridging trials,” he said.
The former PM Manmohan said that experts are of the view that this relaxation is justified in case of an emergency.
“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,” he said.
India on Sunday reported a record single-day rise of 2,61,500 Covid-19 cases. While the death toll increased to 1,77,150 with a record 1,501 new fatalities, active cases have surpassed the 18-lakh mark.