June 29, 2021 3:17:54 am
Several members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs Monday asked the government to speak in one voice on the possible third wave of the pandemic and sought directions to the state governments to conduct a district-wise audit of life-saving drugs available with pharmacies. The panel heard the government on its state of readiness to tackle the pandemic.
The panel, headed by Congress member Anand Sharma, asked many pointed questions to top government officials, including Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla and Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, on various aspects related to Covid-19. Many of the members, it is learnt, pointed out that the pace of the vaccination is not satisfactory as the government is falling short of its daily vaccination target.
The members asked the officials to enumerate the steps being taken to shore up the supplies. The officials made detailed presentations telling the committee that the government proposes to procure 135 crore from August to December 31 from five manufacturers – a roadmap which it has already presented to the Supreme Court – but the members felt that the number would be inadequate.
The officials told the panel the government is also actively examining the question of indemnity.
The government is in talks with pharma giants Pfizer and Moderna but the issue of indemnity has remained a bone of contention. The members of the committee asked the government to take up with the WHO the issue of giving Emergency Use Listing authorisation for Covaxin.
The committee, it is learnt, pointed out that differing voices are emanating from the government about the onset of the third wave – when it would hit India and what would be the severity.
While the members pointed out that they don’t expect the government to predict the exact timeline, they argued that health officials as well as scientists should speak in one voice to avoid confusion. There should be one authoritative statement from the government, many of the MPs said.
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