‘For Cost-effective, Quick Vaccination…’: Azim Premji Urges FM to Involve Private Sector in Covid-19 Efforts

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Wipro Limited founder and philanthropist Azim Premji on Saturday urged the central government to involve the private sector in the Covid-19 vaccination effort.

Premji, who participated in an interaction at the Bangalore chamber of industry and commerce, told Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman that the vaccination rate would get a big boost if private participation was allowed.

"Vaccines have been developed in record time. Now the key is to deploy and administer it in large proportions. The government is doing the best it can but I suggest that it supplement by involving the private parties, " Premji told Sitharaman.

"There is a possibility that we can get the Serum Institute to supply vaccine at about 300 per shot, and hospitals, private nursing homes can administer this at a cost of Rs 100 a shot. So, within Rs 400 a shot, it is possible to do mass vaccination of the population. I think if government were to engage the private industry quickly, we can be sure of achieving a coverage of 500 million people within 60 days. That's a practicality. And I think it is very important that government considers this as a major supplementation to the effort, " he said.

The IT czar had last year donated ₹7,904 crore ( ₹22 crore a day) to battle the Covid-19 crisis.

Speaking at the event on Saturday, he highlighted that the pandemic had proved to be a "wake up call" to fix fundamental issues of public systems such as health, and changing the structure of society to become more equal and just.

Meanwhile, Adar Poonawalla, CEO of vaccine major Serum Institute of India (SII), on Sunday urged other countries to be patient as they wait for the supplies of COVID-19 vaccine, Covishield, as the company has been directed to prioritise the needs of India.

Apart from making efforts to meet the requirements of India, the company is also trying its best to balance the needs of the rest of the world, he added.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar made the announcement to gift the 2 lakh doses during his remarks at a UN Security Council open debate on the implementation of resolution 2532 (2020), noting the impact of COVID-19 globally and calling for the cessation of hostilities around the world to help combat the pandemic.

The central government has cleared supply of 34.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to 25 countries on a commercial basis till February 11 under the initiative "Vaccine Maitri".

The government last month mandated that the external affairs ministry would oversee the export of the vaccine on a commercial basis to foreign countries and international organisations.