Private providers, with appropriate checks and balances should be allowed to vaccinate and support the government to both utilise the available vaccines as well as amplify the number of vaccinations, CII has suggested.
The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has called for the private sector participation in the inoculation drive, expressing concerns some quantity of the vaccines could expire if not used soon. TV Narendran, president-designate chairman of CII’s Vaccine Task Force, said on Friday opening up the vaccination process to the private sector would enable full utilisation of the vaccines within the expiry period.
CII has suggested that in the second phase of inoculating those over 50 years the government should consider industry participation for a faster rollout and permit it to vaccinate their employees and immediate family members. Private providers, with appropriate checks and balances should be allowed to vaccinate and support the government to both utilise the available vaccines as well as amplify the number of vaccinations, CII has suggested.
Naushad Forbes, co-chairman of Forbes Marshall and past president of CII, pointed out that at the current pace of close to ten million vaccinations a month, India could take another 17 years to administer two doses of the Covid-19 vaccines to the entire adult population of 800 million.
While India had the world’s fastest launch, getting to one million vaccinations in a week and eight million in a month, the country would need to improve the pace of vaccination by 20 times and target to vaccinate 140 million people a month by involving the private sector and NGOs, Forbes suggested. “We have a unique availability of vaccines by the million, large under-utilised capacity in our hospital system, and a long line of people who can’t wait to take the vaccine. We must let them come together,” Forbes said.
He expressed concern over the vaccine stock piling up at Serum Institute of India (SII), with the first lot approaching expiry in April. The vaccines have a shelf life of six months and SII had stockpiled 100 million doses of Covishield – AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine – before vaccination had started. SII still has more than 30 million doses in stock since the government has ordered 20 million doses till date. SII will start shipping another 20 million doses to GAVI’s COVAX countries next week.
The vaccination drive started on January 14 and the target was to reach three crore frontline workers first and cover 30 crore people over 50 years and with co-morbidities thereafter. SII did not respond to queries regarding unsold stock of Covishield at the company or the possibility of supplying to private players in India.