As the second wave of covid-19 rages in India, Its seeing a “frightening rise” in Covid cases and deaths with its healthcare system “reaching breaking point”. Providing vaccine for everyone above 18 years, a huge gap in demand and supply exist. Considering around 90 crore, the given population size, we require more than 180 crore doses of vaccines @ two doses /person. Currently country has only two manufacturers one Bharat Biotech, Hyderabad for indigenous developed vaccine named ‘Covaxin’ and another Serum Institute of India, Pune for exotic developed vaccine ‘Coveshield’ . Their total production is around 8-9 crore doses per month. It may take about 2 years to complete the vaccination process. Hence, a big gap lies in demand and supply says Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) .
SJM appeal government to allow scientists and manufacturers the greatest freedom to operate to develop and manufacture the vaccines and medicines that are urgently needed in these hours of crisis. India is now in full blown health emergency. Government of India should waive of intellectual property rights (IPR) restrictions that prohibit manufacturing companies to produce even the indigenous vaccine named Covaxin says the SJM. There are more than 3000 pharmaceutical companies operative in the country with around 10500 manufacturing units. They are not able to produce owing to restriction of patent laws. Geneticist Prof. Ashok Sarial, Former Vice Chancellor, HP Agricultural University, Palampur says the Patents Act 1970 u/s 92 provides for relaxation and issue of compulsory licences in case of i) national ( health) emergency, ii) one’s life is at loss due to lack of vaccine i.e extreme urgency and iii) manufacturing of vaccine is in public interest i.e. public non-commercial use. All the above conditions are met under prevailing circumstances. If 10 percent of the companies are permitted to manufacture vaccine the demand and supply gap would be fulfilled within a month and the countrymen do not have to wait for complete vaccination for over two years.
SJM says that by relaxing the patent for Covaxin, the indigenous COVID-19 vaccine developed and manufactured by Bharat Biotech, Hyderabad would bring tangible benefits to Indians, the world, and most importantly, the manufacturer Bharat Biotech. It would establish a global best practices paradigm, combining IPR relaxation, government-corporate cooperation, pandemic management, and optimal long-term capitalism. Of all the vaccines manufactured in India, Covaxin has the lowest production run and its manufacturer Bharat Biotech, Hyderabad the lowest global coverage. With relaxation of IPR production of the vaccine would be in bulk that creates economies of scale without needing the company to invest in an expensive expansion of capacity. Its also time to right to equitable access to Covid -19 vaccination pleads SJM.