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The magnitude of the adult vaccination programme being finalised by the Centre has prompted the parliamentary committee try and understand the potential challenges and recommend some concrete solutions to the Union government after talking to experts. (Priyanka Parashar/Mint)
The magnitude of the adult vaccination programme being finalised by the Centre has prompted the parliamentary committee try and understand the potential challenges and recommend some concrete solutions to the Union government after talking to experts. (Priyanka Parashar/Mint)

Covid-19 vaccination programme to be examined by parliamentary committee

  • The standing committee on chemicals and fertilizers will on Monday outline the criteria to decide on the issues related to vaccine production to be discussed by the panel
  • The panel's remit could increase with representatives from pharma companies likely to appear before its members

NEW DELHI: The ambitious adult vaccination programme for Covid being finalised by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government is likely to come under discussion and scrutiny by a parliamentary committee. This will be the first time India will try to administer a vaccine to a large section of population.

As the office of Prime Minister Narendra Modi gears up for one of its largest adult vaccination programmes for covid-19 pandemic in the world, its production will be discussed by the standing committee on chemicals and fertilizers is holding a meeting on Monday to get representation from officials of Department of Pharmaceuticals on the ‘status of covid-19 vaccine production in India’.

“This is the biggest vaccination programme that would be undertaken by the country and the PMO is directly monitoring the preparations. The officials working in the health departments in various state governments will have to work along with central authorities if this programme is to be a success and a large section of people need to be given the vaccine. This is the first meeting and there would be several such meetings that would include representatives from health ministry and different pharmaceutical companies," said a person with knowledge of the developments.

The development comes in the backdrop of at least two other parliamentary committees—one on health and family welfare and another on science and technology—have taken up for discussion over India’s preparedness for pandemics like covid-19 and its health impact.

“It is obvious that when such a huge vaccination programme will be undertaken, it is bound to face challenges. We want to understand these challenges and recommend some concrete solutions to the Union government after talking to experts," said a person with knowledge of the developments.

According to people aware of the developments, the meeting on Monday of the standing committee on chemicals and fertilizers, chaired by Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) lawmaker Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, will lay the outline for ascertaining which are the key issues related to vaccine production that the committee will take up in the coming days.

“One of the priority issues chosen during a meeting last month of the panel on selection of subjects for this year was the progress of the covid-19 vaccine. While Monday’s meeting more or less sets the ground for what are the key issues the panel will take up around vaccine production, we are expecting that more such meetings will be lined up in the coming days," a person aware of developments said.

The ambit of the committee is likely to increase with the possibility of more representatives from government departments, private companies and any other related stakeholders likely to be called. This is the first time that the standing committee on chemicals and fertilizers will be taking up the issue of vaccination.

“It is a very sensitive and significant issue where developments are very rapid. We want to understand what the progress on its production in India is and in the coming days some of the big pharma companies involved in the process could also be asked to appear in front of the panel," the person quoted above added.

Significantly, the parliamentary panel on health and family welfare became the first one to submit its report on the outbreak and management of covid-19 pandemic to Rajya Sabha chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu on Saturday. Some of the key suggestions made by the committee include need for creation of an Indian Health Service (IHS) on the lines of the civil services for streamlining public healthcare as well as suggesting that there should be an increase in health sector budget and investment in health infrastructure.

“The committee strongly emphasizes on the need for ensuring the highest level of ethical and procedural standards in the vaccine research studies. The vaccine should pass the strictly regulated route of all phases of clinical trials and the data should be made available in the public domain. The committee strongly recommends the ministry to follow a transparent approach so that any irregularity in the approval/production of vaccine is avoided," the committee said on vaccine production in its report according to an official press release.

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