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Adequate amount of vaccine will be available from August onwards: Amitabh Kant

Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog today said that the second wave has been more catastrophic than the first one and it overwhelmed the health system for a while. The government has taken a series of measures since then and there has been a steady decline in the number of active cases. “There has been further ramping up of the vaccination drive and the private sector has played a very pivotal role in managing the pandemic and has complimented the efforts of the government in a significant way,” he added.

Addressing the virtual ‘Interactive session on Saving Lives and Livelihood’, organized by FICCI, jointly with OYO, Mr Kant applauded the role of the private sector in the overall vaccination drive. “There may be a slight demand-supply imbalance in vaccination during June-July but from August onwards there will be an adequate amount of vaccines available. From then on, we should be able to vaccinate everybody in India properly and that should help us,” he added.

Kant further said that all of us need to be responsible to save ourselves from a third wave because if the third wave happens, then the children and people in rural areas will get impacted. “We need to build up both hospital infrastructure and human resources. We need to ensure ICU facility at the grassroot level. This is also an opportunity for the private sector to come forward,” he added.

Kant emphasized the need to build up a model of private public-partnership in which government acts as a facilitator and the private sector comes forward. “If we leave everything on the government, it will be difficult to achieve the goal. This is an opportunity to create the infrastructure in the rural areas and in tier-2,3 cities. We should not lose the momentum of creating good quality infrastructure and associations like FICCI will play a very important role in this,” he said.

The private sector, he said came forward in bolstering the supply chain, supplementing oxygen capabilities, ramping up of medical infrastructure and providing oxygen concentrators and technical assistance to several government agencies. “We are working with the private sector and international developmental organizations with an aim to forge strong partnership to strengthen our response to the pandemic,” Kant added.  

He further stated that when the situation worsened and international assistance started pouring in, we worked on a war footing to coordinate all assistance, ensured zero delays, and all items dispatched to destinations with the use of technology in a transparent manner. “We used technology to develop a fully digital and transparent end-to-end system which enabled all aid coming via government to government and private to government channels,” he noted.

Kant also said that sectors like Tourism and Aviation are badly hit and would need the government support. “We should be as innovative as possible and support our industries both on the monetary as well as the fiscal side,” he added.

Ritesh Agarwal, Founder and Group CEO, OYO, said, "India Inc has shown immense resilience to COVID-19 in the past year. I would like to thank Mr Amitabh Kant for his words of encouragement & wisdom. We've opened our hotels to those who need the most during these times. As part of OYO CARE, we have partnered with hospitals and healthcare services providers to provide isolation and quarantine facilities to healthcare professionals and frontline workers. We also believe that vaccination will be key to build trust and confidence among travellers when they are ready to step out again. OYO is using technology to give its hotel staff vaccine visibility with the 'VaccinAid’ feature on the app. Along with thousands of small and medium hotel partners, we are hopeful of combating the challenges posed by the pandemic & building a resilient OYO.”

Dilip Chenoy, Secretary General, FICCI said that the current wave of COVID-19 has been much more severe and widespread than what we experienced last year. “FICCI will continue to support the initiatives of supporting the livelihoods of those associated with travel, tourism and hospitality industry,” he added.

Anil Rajput, Member, Corporate Management Committee and Head, Corporate Affairs, ITC Ltd said that we need to remain prepared to fight new challenges while ensuring that we find a balance between lives and livelihood.

Gaurav Gupta, Co-Founder & Head of Supply, Zomato; Raghav Chandra, Co-Founder, Urban Company; Rohit Kapoor, CEO, OYO India and South East Asia also shared their perspective on the steps taken by the industry in saving lives and livelihood.

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