Home / News / India /  Covid vaccination programme comes under Parliament’s radar

The planned adult vaccination programme for covid-19, said to be one of the world’s largest, is likely to be scrutinized by a parliamentary committee.

As the government prepares to roll out the vaccines—if and when they are approved—their production will be discussed by the standing committee on chemicals and fertilizers on Monday. The panel will hear officials of the pharmaceuticals department on the “status of covid-19 vaccine production in India".

“This is the biggest adult vaccination programme that would be undertaken by the country and the prime minster’s office 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 aware of the plan.

Two other parliamentary committees—one on health and family welfare and another on science and technology—have already discussed India’s preparedness for pandemics like covid-19.

“It is obvious that when such a huge vaccination programme is 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," added a second person in the know of the development.

The meeting on Monday, chaired by Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) lawmaker Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, will ascertain the key issues for vaccine production that the committee will take up in the coming days, according to a third person aware of developments. “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," added the same person as above.

“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.

The parliamentary panel on health and family welfare became the first to submit its report on the outbreak and management of the covid-19 pandemic to Rajya Sabha chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu on Saturday. Its key suggestions include the need for creating an Indian Health Service on the lines of the civil services for streamlining public healthcare and for an increase in health sector budget and investment in health infrastructure.

“The committee strongly emphasizes on the need for ensuring 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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