Azim Premji, on February 21, called for the involvement of the private sector to vaccinate India's population against COVID-19.
Speaking at an interactive session organised by the Bangalore Chamber of Industry and Commerce (BCIC), the former Wipro chairman and managing director told Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman that deploying and administering the vaccine in large proportion was a key requirement.
"While the government is doing its best, I would strongly suggest that they should supplement the efforts by involving the private players," he said.
Elaborating on how the private sector can participate in vaccination drive, Premji said that there is a possibility that the Serum Institute of India (SII) provides vaccine at about 300 per shot to the hospitals and private nursing homes, which can then administer the jab at a cost of 100 rupees a shot.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
"So within 400 rupees a shot, it is possible to do mass vaccination of the population," the IT czar said.
He further said that if the government engaged the private industry quickly, India could immunise 500 million people within 60 days.
It may be recalled that the Centre has procured Covishield vaccine doses from the Serum Institute at Rs 200 per dose.
Meanwhile, SII CEO Adar Poonawalla, on February 21 urged other countries to be patient as the company had been directed to prioritise the needs of India.
"Dear countries and governments, as you await #COVISHIELD supplies, I humbly request you to please be patient, @SerumInstIndia has been directed to prioritise the huge needs of India and along with that balance the needs of the rest of the world. We are trying our best," Poonawalla said in a tweet.Click here for Moneycontrol's full coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak