Industry federations extend support to Covid vaccination drive

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Healthcare and Industry federations came forward on Thursday to support the government’s Covid vaccination strategy and to scale up last-mile delivery for the entire population.

In order to ramp up the coronavirus vaccination drive in the country, the Indian government on Monday announced a liberalised and accelerated Phase 3 strategy of Covid-19 vaccination from May 1.

Everyone above the age of 18 will be eligible to get the Covid-19 vaccine, said the government.

The healthcare and industry federations in a meeting deliberated on a set of immediate recommendations for submission to the government for effectively executing the liberalised and accelerated phase three National Vaccination Strategy from May 1.

The recommendations were aligned with the main elements of the Phase-3 strategy — procurement and administration of vaccines being made flexible — all stakeholders being given the freedom to customise to local needs and dynamics.

They also recommended incentivising manufacturers to scale-up production and invite new national and international players; and manufacturers empowered to release vaccines in the open market at a pre-declared price and states authorised to purchase from private players.

Senior healthcare leaders from the private sector spanning all major healthcare federations — CII, FICCI, AHPI, IMA, PHD Chamber of Commerce, ASSOCHAM, Indian Chamber of Commerce, AMC, ANEI, AHEI, FHA Karnataka and NATHEALTH — participated in the meeting.

Lauding the government for the phase three inoculation drive, as it can enable the industry to come together, the Federations recommended that the private sector in India pool their demand for effective flexible procurement to ensure high quality and uninterrupted access of lifesaving vaccines.

Harsh Mahajan, President NATHEALTH said, “As the country is grappling with a sudden surge of Covid cases and different parts of the country facing various challenges related to healthcare infrastructure, ramping up vaccination drive by involving Indian and global organisations will prove to be beneficial in the longer run and will reduce the burden on the healthcare ecosystem that India is facing amidst these tough times.”

The private sector can assess emerging requirements from healthcare, telecom, retail, information technology, consumer, and other industry segments through rapid assessment. The private sector will also explore PPP’s to share the national responsibility with central and state governments.

They will work collaboratively to tide over supply side challenges and join hands with the Government to scale up last mile delivery of vaccines, pandemic surveillance and hospitalization care.

The private sector will prioritise the rapid clinical trials for other critical, life-saving drugs, inhalers and therapies which are showing promising results for use in the treatment of Covid-19, apart from vaccines.

As an immediate short-term measure, as private healthcare sector reorganises its supply chains, there is an urgent need for Central and State governments to ensure continuity of supplies for the next 30-60 days, especially for existing eligible population and those eligible for second vaccination.

They requested the government to ensure that there is consistency in vaccine administration guidelines across states through standard operating guidelines for engagement with the private sector.

In this process, industry will be ready to engage immediately in right earnest.