Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Monday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to clear more coronavirus vaccines for emergency use in India and boost domestic production. Her letter to Modi came as several states continue to face vaccine shortages amid the surge in cases.
Gandhi also requested Modi to allow vaccination of adults based on need and exposure to the infection, instead of the age-based criteria.
Gandhi said that she had discussed the coronavirus crisis with the chief ministers of Congress-ruled states. “Vaccines are our only hope,” Gandhi said. “Sadly, most states are left with a stock of three to five days.”
The Congress chief said that the number of vaccine doses allotted to a state must be based on the “prevalence and projection” of infection.
Earlier in the day, a committee of experts recommended Sputnik-V, the coronavirus vaccine developed by Russia, for emergency use in India. The Drugs Controller General of India will have to make the final decision to approve the vaccine. If approved, Sputnik-V will become the third vaccine that to be administered in India after Covaxin and Covishield.
Gandhi also asked Modi to exempt medicines and equipment being used to fight the coronavirus from the Goods and Services Tax.
In her letter, the Congress chief requested the prime minister to provide minimum monthly income of Rs 6,000 to the poor. “As we move ahead to control the situation by resorting to curfews, travel restrictions, closures and lockdowns, we will again be restricting economic activity that will hit the already beleaguered people – especially the poor and the daily wagers,” she said.
Gandhi noted that migrant workers had already begun returning to their native places amid the imposition of new coronavirus-related restrictions. “It will be critical to immediately address their needs of safe and seamless transportation, as indeed their suitable rehabilitation in the host as well as host states,” she said.
India on Monday registered 1,68,912 new coronavirus cases in yet another record increase in infections. The country’s overall tally of infections since the pandemic broke out last March rose to 1,35,27,717. The toll went up to 1,70,179 as 904 more deaths were recorded in the last day. India overtook Brazil to become the second-most affected country globally by the coronavirus.