NEW DELHI: Following in the footsteps of a string of Congress leaders including former PM Manmohan Singh, party president Sonia Gandhi and MP Rahul Gandhi, former Union minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Saturday wrote to PM Modi and Health minister Harsh Vardhan with suggestions to ramp up vaccine manufacture in the country.
All letters to the PM by opposition leaders have remained unanswered so far. Continuing with Congress called was its “opposition Raj Dharma” – to offer constructive suggestions – Azad, in his letter, sought the government’s push to ensure that Bharat Biotech shares the manufacturing technology for Covaxin with all WHO-accredited, prequalified pharma companies in India so that vaccine production can be ramped up.
Pointing to 21 major vaccine manufacturing pharma companies with manufacturing capabilities in line with the bio-safety norms needed for vaccine production, the former Union health minister said 7 companies, including Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech, are WHO pre-qualified.
“I believe the Department of Biotechnology and ICMR have supported the development of the vaccine now being produced by Bharat Biotech…It may be worthwhile to have them share the technology with, if not all, the remaining WHO pre-qualified pharmaceutical companies. This will immediately increase the production of Covaxin manifold thereby instantly improving vaccination coverage,” Azad said.
Azad also said government should consider re-hiring retired nursing and pharma staff for six months to a year on payment of last-drawn pay minus pension to accelerate India’s vaccination drive. Inaddition Azad also forwarded suggestions on equitable distribution of oxygen to states, and said government should MSMEs to manufacture pre-fabricated beds for hospitals.