Nasscom seeks liberalisation of vaccine import

Terms data as strategic ammunition available for managing the pandemic

By Author  |  Published: 13th May 2021  9:38 pm

New Delhi: Nasscom on Thursday said it has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking a temporary relaxation in the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) norms and further liberalisation of vaccine import to navigate through the deadly second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Terming data as strategic ammunition available for managing the pandemic, the IT industry body said insights and analytics from Covid tracking and vaccination data could play a key role in decision making and early warning signals.

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All these steps, it said, will enable the industry to “do more and act faster to help the country navigate the second wave and be better prepared to deal with future waves”. Nasscom said while the vaccination regime has been liberalised, the availability of vaccines – particularly for the private sector – continues to be “very challenging”.

“While we are attempting to source available vaccines in India, we request the government to provide emergency use authorisation for all WHO-approved vaccines – Pfizer, Moderna, J&J, and others that have gone through stringent approval process globally, to ensure there is no vaccine divide in the country,” it said in a statement.

India is registering a record number of Covid-19 cases daily that has put extreme pressure on the healthcare infrastructure of the country. The number of new coronavirus infections touched 3.62 lakh cases and 4,120 fatalities, according to the Union health ministry data updated on Thursday.

Nasscom said the devastating impact of the second wave of Covid-19 is being felt across the country and its economic and social impact is unprecedented. The association also pledged the industry’s full support to the nation in dealing with the crisis.

Nasscom noted that many countries and global companies are providing aid to India and are helping the healthcare infrastructure deal with the surge in cases. “However, the amended provisions of the FCRA Act 2020 are proving to be a deterrent. Given the humanitarian crisis, we would request the government to grant a temporary waiver to the FCRA Act and the 2020 amendments,” it added.

The association explained that this move will enable NGOs to transfer funds between FCRA-approved NGOs and non-FCRA approved NGOs. Wipro chairman Rishad Premji tweeted that these actions will “go a long way in helping arrest the immediate crisis at hand and also accelerate the only sustainable short/ medium-term solution to the pandemic through increased vaccine supply”.

Nasscom has also highlighted that data and artificial intelligence (AI) have a critical role to play for India to deal with the Covid crisis. “Covid tracking and vaccination, insights, and analytics from data could play a key role in decision making and early warning signals. Data is one of the most strategic ammunition available to manage the pandemic and respond better,” it said.

Nascom added that effective access to data for insights and planning must be ensured across all states and key departments, on a priority. The industry body, in July last year, had called for an urgent imperative for the country to build a data utilisation strategy.


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