IT czar Azim Premji on Sunday hailed that the COVID-19 vaccine has been developed at a record time but pointed out that deploying and administering the vaccine in large proportion was the key requirement today. The founder Chairman of Wipro suggested the government involve the private sector to supplement its effort of vaccinating people.
Private sector can help in vaccination drive: Azim Premji
“There is a possibility that we can get the Serum Institute to supply vaccines at about Rs 300 a shot and hospitals and private nursing homes can administer this at a cost of Rs 100 per shot. So with a Rs 400 a shot, it is possible to do mass vaccination of the population,” Premji said while speaking at an interactive session with Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman hosted by Bangalore Chamber of Industry and Commerce.
According to him, if the government engages the private sector, it can rest assured that the country can achieve coverage of 500 million people within 60 days. At the moment, the second phase of the government’s COVID vaccination drive entails 27 crore being vaccinated by June-July. Premji stepped down as Wipro chairman and managing director in 2019 and handed over the company’s reins to his son Rishad. The event saw a galaxy of tycoons and industry leaders such as Wipro founder Azim Premji, former director of Infosys T V Mohandas Pai, noted cardiac surgeon Dr Devi Prasad Shetty and president and chairman of Volvo Group India Kamal Bali.
Earlier on Saturday, Azim Premji said companies should not be legally mandated to engage in corporate social responsibility (CSR) as such contributions to society need to “come from within”. Premji, who totaled Rs 7,904 crore in donations and philanthropy last year (Rs 22 crore a day), also highlighted that the COVID-19 crisis was a “wake up call” to look at fundamental issues like the need to improve public systems like health, and changing the structure of society to become more equal and just.
Need to increase pace of vaccinations: Govt to states
Meanwhile, the Union Health Ministry has written to all states and UTs highlighting the need to significantly enhance the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations, noting that a large number of healthcare and frontline workers still remain to be covered.
In a letter addressed to chief secretaries of all states and UTs, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said the number of days of vaccination in a week should also be increased to a minimum of four days per week at the earliest to speed up the process of vaccination and gear up the system to take up the vaccination of the 50+ population. The letter dated February 19 stated a large number of healthcare and frontline workers still remain to be covered and the progress is variable across several states and UTs.
Till February 21, a total of 1,10,85,173 vaccine doses have been administered through 2,30,888 sessions, as per the provisional report. These include 63,91,544 healthcare workers (1st dose), 9,60,642 healthcare workers (2nd dose) and 37,32,987 frontline workers (1st dose).
(With PTI inputs)