Indian industry urged the Centre to allow booster shots of COVID-19 vaccines in view of the Omicron variant, during pre-Budget consultations with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday.
The government is yet to take a decision on allowing booster shots for those already inoculated with two doses.
The Health Ministry has pointed out that even the World Health Organization is yet to take a stand on whether booster doses are necessary.
On Sunday, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) head of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases, Samiran Panda, said need for a booster or additional vaccine dose or reduction in time gap between two doses of the available vaccines are being examined.
Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) president T.V. Narendran voiced what several industry leaders have been advocating for some time, during a virtual interaction hosted by Ms. Sitharaman and top Finance Ministry officials on Industry, Infrastructure & Climate Change-related concerns that may be addressed in the coming Budget of 2022-23.
Emphasising the importance of bolstering India’s pandemic preparedness to mitigate possible fresh risks to economic growth, Tata Steel managing director Mr. Narendran said: “With the risk of the omicron variant looming large, it is critical to explore booster doses of the COVID vaccines with an adequate provisioning in the Budget for continued strengthening of our surveillance, testing, vaccine research, therapeutics and health care infrastructure.”
He also asked the government to adopt a three-tier import tariff structure to support aspirations of Atma Nirbhar Bharat and help Indian businesses integrate into the global value chain.