Government officials told the parliamentary panel that while they were quite hopeful of a breakthrough as India develops almost 60% vaccines, there are global safety protocols to be followed which would take time, said people aware of the matter.
New Delhi: Days after a controversy erupted over the Indian Council of Medical Research indicating August deadline for a Covid-19 vaccine, senior government officials told a parliamentary panel that commercial availability of any vaccine will only be possible in early 2021.
The officials told the panel that while they were quite hopeful of a breakthrough as India develops almost 60% vaccines, there are global safety protocols to be followed which would take time, said people aware of the matter.
Principal scientific advisor K Vijay Raghavan and senior officials of the Department of Science and Technology, Department of Biotechnology and the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research attended the meet.
Meanwhile, regular meetings of parliamentary committees with physical presence of members have begun as two panels- Public Accounts Committee and the Science and Technology- held their sitting on Friday and discussed important COVID-19 related matters in Parliament House annexe.
The Public Accounts Committee headed by Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury saw an impressive attendance with at least 13 of the 20 members attending the meeting. The panel has two vacancies.
While the agenda of the meeting was a discussion on selection of subjects for examination in 2020-21, Chowdhury raised the issue of funding of bodies like PMCARES and the need to audit its income and expenditure. Chowdhury, however, did not name the fund.
Sources said since Chowdhury was raising the issue suo motu, the ruling party members objected to it and cited the precedence of a ruling by KV Thomas in the Purti case where the latter had ruled as chairperson that the matter has to be listed on the agenda of the meeting for it to be taken up.
Chowdhury said under Rule 308 of the Parliamentary Committee Rules the expenditure incurred by any public fund on Covid-19 should be made public.
Rule 308 states that the PAC has a right to examine the appropriation of funds granted by the House for “expenditure of the Government of India, the annual finance accounts of the Government of India and such other accounts laid before the House as the Committee may think fit”.
PAC also has the right to scrutinize appropriation accounts of the government and the reports of the CAG. The BJP members insisted that the government funds dealing specifically with COVID-19 have not been sanctioned by Parliament nor drawn from the Consolidated Fund of India and hence cannot be taken up by PAC.
The Science and Technology, Environment, Forests and Climate Change Standing Committee headed by Congress leader Jairam Ramesh also held its meeting in Parliament House annexe. However, only six members and the Chairperson were present in the meeting that discussed the “preparedness to deal with Covid-19 and other pandemics in future”.