Fighting Covid: Industry bats for a multi-pronged approach

G Balachandar Chennai | Updated on May 05, 2021

Suggests strategies to meet the cost of vaccination, speed up the process

As the country steps up efforts to battle the second wave of Covid-19, industry associations suggest a multi-pronged strategy to reduce the impact of the virus as well as save the already battered economy from further crisis.

Daily new infections remain at three lakh-plus levels and more than 3,000 people are succumbing to the virus every day. So, vaccination is seen as the way forward.

As the government opened the vaccination window for people in the age group of 18-44, the number of people being administered vaccine doses is on the rise.

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Advance from EPFO

“As per the Election Commission of India, the number of people above 18 years is 92 crore. Assume 15 per cent of this may not require a vaccine. So, for the 75-crore people, we need 150 crore doses. The country has done 20 crore doses and the balance is 130 crore doses. We need to plan well to reach this target in the next 100 days,” said KE Raghunathan, Convenor, Consortium of Indian Associations.

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The total estimated budget required for these 130 doses will be about ₹37,500 crore i.e., assuming 65 crore doses at a cost of ₹150 per dose and the balance 65 crore doses at ₹400 per dose.

Raghunathan points out that the cost could be met by four ways. There could be a vaccination advance amount from EPFO (Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation), which has more than 5 crore members. If at least two family members use this advance, 10 crore people could be covered. Also, the Government should allow the corporates to use their CSR funds to vaccinate staff and family so that companies won’t worry about additional cost burden arising out of vaccination to employees during this tough time. This will help cover more people.

Mr CK Ranganathan, Chairman, Southern Region, Confederation of Indian Industry, recently urged State governments to collaborate with industries in setting up vaccination camps in their factory premises. “Through this initiative, CII expects to vaccinate over 3 lakh people comprising industrial workers and their family members and communities in the neighbourhood in the six southern States,” he said.

Vaccination donation fund

A Vaccination Donation Fund could be planned and that can request public and overseas donation to provide doses for the less privileged in the society and for the remaining portion Central government and State could share in the ratio of 60:40 by postponing other long-term expenses budgeted earlier, to solve the current unprecedented crisis, explained Raghunathan.

While ensuring adequate funds through said methods, the governments could work out ways to increase the number of vaccinations per day from the present 25-30 lakh level to 1 crore in order to complete the vaccination in 100 days.

“Governments should set up awareness about vaccination and strongly communicate to people that only those who have taken two shots will be allowed to move around and travel,” Raghunathan added.

Meantime, to tide over the crisis during the next few months, the Centre could announce a moratorium for all loans from EMI for six months without any interest.

Task forces could be set up for worst-affected sectors for recommendations that could be implemented quickly for their recovery.

Published on May 05, 2021

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