New Delhi: Dr Gagandeep Kang, top virologist and also a member of the Supreme Court-appointed committee on medical oxygen, said that the Centre may have narrowed down its options in the international market by delaying the process of bulk-purchase of vaccines. Her comment strengthened the criticism that the Centre was lazy in procuring vaccines doses.
"Aren't we a little late to the table on this one? The rest of the world has been buying vaccines at risk for a year, so what's the supply that is available in the market for us to go now and say we want to buy vaccines?" she said.
Her comments come amid several Dr several states - including Maharashtra, Odisha, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh - are floating global tenders for vaccine supply, in an attempt to stave off a third Covid wave amidst a growing scarcity of vaccines. The vaccine centres have shut down amid a dwindling supply in many states.
Kang also feels the government needed to make investments in the clinical development of vaccines despite the possibility of financial losses in the event a vaccine could not be fully developed, reports NDTV.
"I definitely think we should be taking that risk and if we do, it sets us up well for the future as well because you establish a precedent where you will be willing to invest in innovation knowing that innovations cannot always succeed," Kang said.
"If you can go to Zydus Cadila, Biological E, all the companies that are making vaccines which will be ready in the latter part of this year, tell them, 'Ramp up your production, make as much as you can. If your trials are successful, we'll take everything that you've got. I think we'll get more doses that way," she added.
Unlike the United States which invested $10 billion in Operation 'Warp Speed' in March last year, even before key vaccines were fully developed, India never paid for the clinical development of vaccines, nor did it place advance bulk orders, preferring instead to make relatively small purchases for priority groups in its vaccination programme.