Avani Singh, CEO of SpiceHealth and daughter of SpiceJet Ltd Chairman Ajay Singh, has called upon the Centre to open up the manufacture and procurement of COVID-19 vaccines to the private sector. She said it’s the only way to ensure the nation’s vast population receives adequate protection from the pandemic.
“Government needs to become more lenient in opening up vaccination to the private sector,” she said during an interview last week.
“We are obviously moving at a much slower pace with vaccinations than we should be. If they let private players like labs and hospitals procure vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and let private players make Covaxin more aggressively we could significantly ramp up the administration and build up enough immunity to get out of this faster. Not allowing labs and hospitals to procure and facilitate vaccines is a huge untapped potential”, she added.
Hospitals in India are running out of beds, people have been forced to find ways to get treatment for sick patients at home. Many have turned to the black market, where prices of essential medicines, oxygen cylinders and concentrators have skyrocketed and questionable drugs are now proliferating.
Although the South Asian nation is one of the world’s biggest vaccine makers, supply locally has run dry amid an expansion of access to everyone aged 18 and above.
“It was criminal what was going on around the country,” Singh added.
Avani also mentioned that she was getting at least 30 calls a day from people asking for beds, oxygen concentrators and tests because it was taking four days to even get a slot for testing followed by another week for results to come in and people with symptoms weren’t able to get treated without a positive report. “The general perception in the country as we’re done, Covid is gone and that was an incorrect perception to have. To a certain extent, it was avoidable and to a large extent we were just not equipped for it.”