The directors of the Indian Institutes of Technology have asked the central government to look into the feasibility of having a common vaccination policy for its students, especially the research scholars who visit the laboratories. The demand was made on Thursday in a virtual meeting chaired by the union minister of education Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ with directors of IISc, IITs, IIITs, IISERs, and NITs. Sanjay Dhotre, (MoS) and secretary Amit Khare also attended the meeting.
According to one of the IIT directors who did not wish to be named, “In the meeting, many of the IITs demanded a common policy on vaccination for our research scholars, especially those who visit laboratories, to get vaccinated on priority.”
Further, he added, “In IITs we have vaccination centers for the priority groups, where the central government is providing the vaccines. We cannot use them for people below 45 years old as state government’s need to provide for this section. State governments are all struggling and there is a paucity of vaccines.”
The directors said that there are “IITs in almost every state, a common vaccination policy for their students would help in research and reopening of the institutes.”
News18.com spoke to another official in the Ministry of Education who said, “Vaccination for researchers who visit labs was taken up in the meeting. This is important to encourage research in the fight against covid as well.”
In the meeting between the directors and the Minister of Education, there was discussion on the research being undertaken by these institutions in tackling Covid situation. According to the statement of the government the education minister “commended the institutes in developing low-cost RT-PCR machines, kits, ventilators, mathematical modelling of predicting the trend of COVID-19 and successfully placing them at the disposal of State Health Departments. Many of the research products have been commercialized through the incubation cells and startups set up by these institutes.”
The statement added, “researchers developed Corona testing kit ‘Corosure’, research for the development of a vaccine, which can be stored at room temperature, Genome sequencing to identify the variants of Corona Virus, ‘COVIRAP’ device for rapid diagnostic of pathogenic infection, methods to optimize the use of Oxygen in ventilators, development of Oxygen concentrators, low-cost portable ventilators, etc.”
Soumyadeep Bhaumik, a medical doctor and international public health specialist said that in the backdrop of digital disparity and competition among the states to acquire vaccines, IITs must realign their demand to the need of the time. Bhaumik said, “ IITs should use their voice and influence to demand a one nation-one vaccine-one buyer policy so that common people of different states can get vaccines equally. States competing for doses will perpetuate inequality.”
India started its vaccination drive by prioritizing healthcare workers, frontline workers, and people above the age of 45 for vaccination. With the new guidelines, issued May 1, people in the age group of 18-45 years are also eligible or vaccination.
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