Biocon top boss calls for stricter measures to curb the spread of coronavirus
India reported over 3.5 lakh new Covid-19 infections for the straight seventh day on Tuesday as it continues to grapple with the deadly second wave. This daily new rise has taken the overall case count past 2 crore. Only the US, with more than 3.3 crore cases so far, has recorded a higher count. Brazil is in the third spot with fewer than 1.5 crore cases. The country has administered more than 15.7 crore Covid-19 vaccine doses so far. Almost all crucial states showed a decline in their daily numbers. However, this is just not enough to flatten the Covid curve.ET Now spoke to the Biocon CEO Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw about India’s battle against Covid-19 and solutions for the current situation.The Biocon top boss believes that the country managed to tackle the first wave better than it did now and that everyone started believing it was a safer place once the first wave receded in January. The country also assumed to have the luxury of time to vaccinate its population now that the pandemic is over.She further prescribes stringent lockdown like last year along with speeding up the vaccination drive to curb the second wave. She also feels there should be certain vaccination-related strategies like finding areas with test positivity of less than 10% and vaccinating them. Back in January, Ms Shaw also suggested vaccinating everyone and not by age. She also stresses vaccinating the workforces who are exposing themselves to the virus.While explaining the situation India is in, Mazumdar-Shaw said, “We are ravaged and overwhelmed by the pandemic. The second wave is a rude awakening that our preparedness & planning has been neglected. Today there is too much time lag between vaccine being produced and being available at vaccination sites. We cannot afford this. It should be real-time and vaccination is the only way we are going to pull through this second wave.”“I would have started producing vaccines at risk way back in August 2020. We should have made SII and Bharat Biotech produce vaccines at risk as most countries did. The government must invest in safety stocks going forward," the Biocon CEO added when asked regarding the vaccine and its shortage. She also suggested certain measures like new vaccines must be produced 'at risk' even before they are approved to tackle the second wave in a better way.Shortages of Remdesivir and Itolizumab have plagued hospitals and patients since the second wave gripped the nation in April this year. Ms Shaw, whose company makes some of these drugs says shortages of Remdesivir are likely to end in the third week of May and by the end of June for Itolizumab. She also explains the impossible challenge to cater to the 10x demand of the reserve inventory of these drugs in such a short time as it takes 6-8 weeks from vial to reach the vein which cannot be shortened.The country faces an additional challenge of hoarders and black marketeers of such life-saving drugs. On this, the Biocon Chief suggested that the current situation does not call for compulsory licensing at this point. Since giving compulsory licenses to other companies will not help in solving the situation because it takes a few months before any producer can qualify its production and get it to the market. The current situation calls for more capacity and ramping up the production.