- Nitin Gadkari said more firms should get license to manufacture vaccines
- Mr Gadkari’s suggestion, first from a top minister, drew a sharp retort
- Vaccinations were opened to all adults from May 1
At a time a shortage of vaccines has slowed down or halted inoculations in many states, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has said more companies should be given the license to manufacture anti-Covid shots.
“If the demand is more than the supply it creates problems. Instead of one, let 10 more companies be given the license for vaccine manufacture…and royalty too,” Mr Gadkari said at a virtual meeting with Vice Chancellors of universities.
The Road Transport Minister said the vaccine formulae should be shared with labs across the country to scale up production – a suggestion made previously by the Chief Ministers of Maharashtra and Delhi, Uddhav Thackeray and Arvind Kejriwal.
“I am sure there are two-three labs in each state that have the capability and infrastructure. Share the formula and coordinate with them to increase production. Let them supply in country and later if there’s surplus, they can export stocks. This can be done in 15-20 days: This can be done to resolve the vaccine shortage,” Mr Gadkari said.
Mr Gadkari’s suggestion, the first from a top minister, drew a sharp retort from senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, who referred to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April on the Covid crisis. “This is what Dr. Manmohan Singh had suggested on April 18th. But is his Boss listening?” – Mr Ramesh tweeted.
Vaccinations were opened to all adults from May 1 and the centre said states and private hospitals could buy doses directly from manufacturers. However, the crippling shortage of vaccines has hit vaccinations in several states and many have put on hold the drive for adults below 45.
Only about 141 million – around 10 per cent of the population — have received at least one vaccine dose, according to health ministry data. Just over 40 million people are fully vaccinated.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has said that vaccine doses will rise to 51.6 crore by July and more than 200 crore between August and December, from domestic production and imports. Besides Serum Institute of India’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, the country is depending on more doses of Russia’s Sputnik V to tackle the demand.
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