He said some states may want to designate school teachers, bus, three-wheeler and taxi drivers, municipal and panchayat staff, and possibly lawyers who have to attend courts as frontline workers, and they can then be vaccinated even if they are below 45 years.
Singh also said that the Centre should publicise what are firm orders for doses placed on different vaccine producers and accepted for delivery over the next six months.
That apart, the government should also indicate how this expected supply will be distributed across states based on a transparent formula, Singh said in his letter.
Sources said Manmohan Singh’s suggestions come a day after the Congress Working Committee met and discussed the efforts required to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
“If we want to vaccinate a target number in this period, we should place enough orders in advance, so that producers can adhere to an agreed schedule of supply,” he noted.
He suggested that the central government could retain 10 per cent for distribution based on emergency needs, and states should have a clear signal of likely availability, so that they can plan their roll-out.
Citing Israel’s example, which has already invoked the compulsory licensing provision, he said there is an overwhelming case for India to do so as well quickly.
Concluding his letter, Singh said he is forwarding his suggestions for consideration in a spirit of constructive cooperation in which he has always believed and acted upon.
“I hope the government will accept these suggestions immediately and act on them promptly,” he said.
Singh recalled how over the year, the world and India have been grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic, with many parents not seeing their children in over a year.
Many have lost their source of livelihood, and several millions have been pushed back into poverty, he said, noting that with the second surge being currently witnessed, “people are beginning to wonder when their lives will get back to normal”.
India has seen a massive surge of Covid-19 cases, with over 200,000 cases being reported every day in the past four days.
Senior Congress Leader P Chidambaram and Mammohan Singh’s former Cabinet colleague have expressed the hope that the government will adhere to the suggestions.
“Whether the government is open to good suggestions will be known from the action taken on the letter. Also, whether the government is serious about containing the spread of the pandemic will also be known from its response,” he said.
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