Sonia writes to PM for nod to more vaccines; BJP hits back

NEW DELHI, APR 12 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 4/12/2021 1:12:54 PM IST

COVID vaccine politics continued on Monday with Congress president Sonia Gandhi writing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging emergency use authorisation for all vaccines that have the required clearances even as the BJP accused the opposition party of “lobbying” for certain pharma firms.

In her letter to the PM after an internal meeting with Congress chief ministers, Sonia Gandhi said, “Vaccines are our foremost hope. Sadly, most states are left with a stock of just three to five days. While it will be necessary on one hand to substantially ramp up our domestic production capacity, it will also be prudent to allow emergency use authorization of all the vaccine candidates that have the required clearances, without any further delay.”

Unstated approval reference in Sonia’s letter including the Pfizer vaccine which has not been granted emergency use authorisation by the Indian drug regulator as the firm has not submitted India specific safety data.

BJP’s national general secretary BL Santosh countered the calls for approval to all vaccines and said, “Sputnik V had been approved for emergency use in India after bridge study by Dr Reddy’s. All who are advocating approval to Pfizer without bridge studies in India as part of a lobby should understand that Indian lives also matter and you cannot bully the Narendra Modi government.”

Sonia in her letter to PM also sought expansion of vaccination based on need and exposure rather than age and GST exemption for life saving drugs and equipment. 

“The numbers allocated to a state has to be based on the prevalence and projection of infection in that particular state.  All instruments, medicines and infrastructure required to deal with COVID 19 should be made completely exempt from GST. Even ventilators, oximeters and oxygen cylinders presently attract GST as do key life-saving drugs like Remdesivir and Dexamethazone,” she said.

Gandhi also batted for minimum income guarantee scheme saying as states imposed curfews, economic activity would be hit hard impacting the poor and daily wagers the most. 

“I appeal to you to put into place the much needed scheme of minimum monthly guaranteed income in place and transfer an amount of Rs 6.000 in every eligible citizen’s account,” she said.

Earlier in the day, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi led the party’s “Speak up for vaccines” social media campaign asking the PM to “stop events, stop exports of vaccines and give vaccines to everyone in need.” Gandhi also said the PM had said COVID would be controlled in 18 days.

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