Economist and national executive council member of the Swadeshi Jagaran Manch (SJM), B.M. Kumaraswamy said on Tuesday that vaccines are being manufactured by only two companies in India, and hence it would be difficult to vaccinate the entire country in a short duration of time.
Addressing a virtual press conference, Kumaraswamy said that more companies will have to start manufacturing vaccines immediately otherwise it would not be possible to vaccinate at least 70 per cent of the 18+ population.
"We need at least 200 crore doses to vaccinate 70 per cent of our population. For this, there is an urgent need for large scale production, for which international technology will be needed. Measures would be required to facilitate the transfer of technology and to overcome the barriers related to intellectual property rights, including patents and trade secrets," he explained.
Kumaraswamy alleged that with big companies having monopoly rights on medicines and vaccines for the treatment and prevention of Covid-19 due to patents, these are not accessible to everyone.
"Right to life of humans is a universal fundamental right. Therefore, the Swadeshi Jagaran Manch appeals to the people across the country to launch a campaign demanding transfer of technology of these vaccines and medicines by making them patent-free," he argued.
He added that already about 120 countries have supported the proposal of the Union government made in the World Trade Organization, along with South Africa, to facilitate patent-free vaccines and medicines.
"We strongly urge the countries, companies and individual groups opposing this proposal to stop opposing it in the interest of humanity without any delay," he said.
Replying to a question, Kumaraswamy said that so far nearly six lakh people have signed a petition in a digital signature campaign from India and 20 other countries demanding the World Trade Organization to expedite steps to relax the provisions of intellectual property rights.