Amid a surge in coronavirus cases in the country, Congress president Sonia Gandhi has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to allow emergency use of all the vaccine candidates having required clearances and called for expanding vaccination of people on the basis of need and exposure rather than age. In a letter to the Prime Minister after her meeting with Chief Ministers of Congress-ruled states, she also urged the Prime Minister to provide a sum of Rs 6,000 each to all eligible citizens to help them tide over the crisis due to various restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"While it will be necessary on one hand to substantially ramp up our domestic production capacity, it will also be prudent to allow emergency use authorisation of all the vaccine candidates that have the required clearances, without any further delay," she told the Prime Minister in her letter.
"Accordingly, with enhanced availability, categories eligible for vaccination should be expanded on the basis of need and exposure rather than just age. In the same vein, the numbers allocated to a state has to be based on the prevalence and projection of infection in that particular state," she said. Noting that vaccines are the foremost hope, she said most of the states, including those ruled by the BJP and its allies, are left with a stock of just three to five days and they need to be given more stock.
The Congress Chief appealed to the Prime Minister that with restrictions being imposed to stop the spread of the virus, he should put in place a minimum monthly guaranteed income scheme and transfer a sum of Rs 6,000 into every eligible citizen's account. "As we move ahead to control the situation by resorting to curfews, travel restrictions, closures and lockdowns, we will again be restricting economic activity that will hit the already beleaguered people -- especially the poor and the daily wagers very, very hard. It is with all earnestness that I appeal to you to put into place the much needed scheme of minimum monthly guaranteed income in place and transfer an amount of Rs 6,000 in every eligible citizen's account," she said.
The Congress Chief said similarly, with reverse migration of labourers already having started, it will be critical to immediately address their needs of safe and seamless transportation, as indeed their suitable rehabilitation in the host as well as home states. She also called for exemption from Goods and Services Tax (GST) for all equipment, instruments, medicines being used in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. "All equipment, instruments, medicines and support infrastructure required to deal with the COVID-19 crisis should be made completely exempt from GST. Even ventilators, oxymeters and oxygen cylinders presently attract GST, as do key life-saving drugs like Remdesivir and Dexamethazone," she said.
Gandhi said she is making the suggestions in a spirit of constructive cooperation.
India hit a new coronavirus infection record with 1,68,912 new cases, the highest single-day rise so far, taking the total tally of cases to 1,35,27,717, according to data updated by the Union Health Ministry on Monday.