India may waive import tax on covid-19 vaccine

New Delhi: India will waive its 10 per cent custom duty on imported vaccines against coronavirus, a senior government official told Reuters on Monday. This comes as India expands it coronavirus vaccination programme amid the prevailing surge of the second wave of the virus in the country. 

India currently has three approved vaccines — Covaxin, Covisheild and Sputnik V. While Covaxin and Covishield have been produced locally by Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India, Sputnik V produced by Russia will arrive anytime soon. According to the report, the Centre has also urged Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson and Moderna to sell their vaccines in India. 

The official further told the publication that the government is also considering allowing private firms to sell their approved vaccines to India without any government interventions. They could also be given the freedom to set prices, he stated.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday chaired a meeting with health officials and pharma companies and decided that vaccination shall be open to all adults. Till April 30, the government will inoculate people above the age of 45. 

The development comes after constant demands to allow vaccination for everyone aged above 18 from opposition leaders as well as the prevailing surge of the second wave of the novel coronavirus in the country. 

With the country reporting over 2 lakh cases per day for the last five days, India is currently facing massive scarcity of beds, oxygen cylinders, beds and other medication. The overall infection tally in the country has crossed 15 million mark, a number only second to the United States.

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