Finance ministry proposes 24/7 vax drive to revive eco growth

NEW DELHI: A finance ministry report on Wednesday called for stepping up the vaccination drive to cover a population of 70 crore by September, arguing that it is essential to get the growth momentum going.
“Herd immunity is accomplished when 80% of the population is immune or less susceptible to infection. The key to regain the momentum of economic recovery is attainment of herd immunity at the earliest possible,” the ministry’s latest monthly economic report said.
Noting that the second wave of Covid has affected the momentum of recovery, the report said manufacturing and construction are expected to see a softer economic shock in the current quarter. But it did acknowledge that downside risks have emerged as the economy was recovering from last year’s supply and demand shocks.
Besides, it warned of price pressures as high international commodity rates and logistics costs could push up the cost of inputs for manufacturing and services, although a normal monsoon was expected to soften inflationary pressures on food. “The outlook for core inflation (excluding food and fuel) is likely to be impacted by the disruptions in supply chains due to localised restrictions across states,” it said, while pointing to mixed signals as retail inflation had cooled down to 4.3% in April, while wholesale price inflation shot up to 10.5%.
Pointing to the global inflation situation in the wake of rising commodity prices, the finance ministry analysis also cautioned that a prolonged rise poses a threat to investor sentiment and global financial stability. The paper estimated that nearly 113 crore doses would be needed by September-end and suggested that to achieve 93 lakh vaccinations a day, the government needed to double the shifts and vaccinate 24×7 during August and September, when supply will also improve.
“The operational challenges can be met by careful planning and upscaling of transportation, storage and vaccine administration capacity,” it said, while advocating a campaign to address vaccine hesitancy.

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