Blog 25 | HEaL Institute & IJME – Covid-19 Insights | May 25, 2021

Letter to PMO on Collective demand for a people’s vaccine in India | FMES and Oxfam India


May 17th, 2021

The Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi
South Block, Raisina Hill,
New Delhi – 110001

Subject: Collective demand for a people’s vaccine in India

Dear Prime Minister,

The pandemic threatens all of us. Unchecked, the virus could kill millions and risks pushing a billion people into poverty. Ensuring everyone has free and equitable access to the vaccine will save lives, reduce the pressure on the healthcare system and accelerate India’s return to normalcy. India needs to drastically scale up vaccination, particularly for those who are vulnerable, in the shortest possible time.

We are writing this letter on behalf of 160 health practitioners and experts (including medical doctors, nurses, health researchers and ethicists), and 73 organisations, unions and groups working on health rights and with marginalised communities. The complete list of 567 endorsements (from across 23 states and UTs) includes globally renowned scholars, social activists, teachers, and concerned citizens is attached with this letter.

We call on you to take action to ensure a peoples’ vaccine. For this to happen, a detailed, time-bound and transparent COVID-19 Vaccine policy and action plan should be arrived at in consultation with the States and India’s experts and citizens at large and ensure transparency in contractual agreements reached by the government with the pharma sector. Specifically, we urge the government to:

Ensure that the vaccine is purchased at true cost prices and provided free of charge to all.

Ensure its fair allocation which prioritizes at-risk groups, is sensitive to the existence of the digital divide and is able to reach the vulnerable where they are.

Be rooted in large scale vaccine procurement by the Central Government at regulated prices which do not cripple the finances of India’s states or pit them against each other in the quest of scarce lifesaving vaccines.

Immediately enhance financial outlays to public health and do what it takes to make the above happen through all possible steps including compulsory licensing of vaccines and ramping up public sector vaccine manufacturing capacity, to strengthen the public health system to be better prepared for the potential next wave of the pandemic.

We welcome and support India’s global advocacy on the vaccine including

Temporary relaxations for Intellectual Property rights, patents and other such provisions under the TRIPS Agreement of the WTO to ensure free and equitable vaccines for all

Addressing Vaccine Nationalism by rich countries including lifting bans on exports of ingredients for vaccine manufacturing and;

Redistribution of excess vaccine stocks anticipated to not be used in the global north.

We hope that you would take note of these recommendations and urge you to take immediate steps to ensure a people’s vaccine to support India’s recovery from this health crisis. We would be happy to work with you and relevant agencies in taking this agenda forward.


Amitabh Behar,
CEO, Oxfam India


Sunita Sheel,
Secretary General,
Forum for Medical Ethics Society


Petition: [Hindi], [Bengali], [Kannada], [Malayalam] [Marathi] [Tamil]

Press release: [Bengali], [Kannada], [Malayalam] [Marathi] [Tamil]

Policy Brief: [English]

Press Coverage


Bengali: Dr Piyali Mitra, Sr Research Professional; Drs Barun and Shushmita Mukhopaddhya, Kolkata; All Forum for Medical Ethics Society (FMES) associates/members

Kannada: Society for Community Health, Awareness, Research and Action (SOCHARA), Bangalore, KA

Malayalam: Dr. Ashis Samuel John, M.D. (in his personal capacity), Trivendrum

Marathi:  Dr Hemlata Pisal, Vidhayak Trust, Pune, MH

Tamil: Ms Meenakshi Sushma, Chennai, TN (IJME)

Tamil: V. Partha Sarathy, (Divya Prerna Foundation), Tamil Nadu

Hindi: Oxfam India (Oxfam)

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