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Manmohan Singh writes to PM Modi, shares five-point COVID-19 combat strategy

India, on April 18, saw the biggest single-day spike of over 2.61 lakh fresh COVID-19 cases, pushing the country's tally to 1.47 crore.

April 18, 2021 / 04:09 PM IST
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

As India reels under severe COVID-19 second wave, former prime minister and senior Congress leader Manmohan Singh wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 18, highlighting that the COVID-19 vaccination drive must be ramped up across the country to tackle the crisis.

“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 have enough orders in advance…” Singh wrote in his letter.

He added that states should be given some flexibility to define the category of frontline workers to be vaccinated even if they are below 45. This includes bus and taxi drivers, panchayat workers, municipality staff and also lawyers. “They can be vaccinated even if they are below 45,” the former Prime Minister wrote.

“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 vaccine under a licence. This, I recall, had happened earlier in the case of medicines to deal with the HIV/AIDS disease,” he further added.

Citing limited domestic supplies as a reason, Singh further stated that any vaccine which has been cleared for use by credible authorities, such as the European Medical Agency or the FDA in the US, should be allowed to be imported without any bridging trials.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

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.

How many types of vaccines are there?

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.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

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.

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“We are facing an unprecedented emergency and, I understand, experts are of the view that this relaxation is justified in an emergency. The relaxation could be for a limited period during which the bridging trials could be completed in India,” he said.

He further stated, “We must resist the temptation to look at the absolute numbers being vaccinated, and focus instead on the percentage of population vaccinated. Currently, India has vaccinated only a small percentage of its population. I am certain that with the right policy design, we can do much better and very quickly."

India on April 18 saw the biggest single-day spike of over 2.61 lakh fresh COVID-19 cases, pushing the country's tally to 1.47 crore, according to the Union health ministry. The death toll in India has climbed to 1,77,150 as 1,501 fatalities were registered in the past 24 hours.

India has been witnessing more than 200,000 daily infections since April 15.
Moneycontrol News
first published: Apr 18, 2021 04:07 pm

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