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Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy says COVID-19 vaccine should be free of cost

Narayana Murthy appealed to companies who can afford to bear the cost to give the vaccines for free. He also said that UN Security Council members should share a major part of this cos

NR Narayana Murthy, Infosys co-founder and Chairman emeritus NR Narayana Murthy, Infosys co-founder and Chairman emeritus

As the world is drawing closer to a vaccine for the much dreaded coronavirus, Infosys co-founder and Chairman emeritus, NR Narayana Murthy has said that people should not be charged for getting a coronavirus vaccine once it becomes available.

Murthy told ET in an interview, "I believe (Covid-19 vaccine) should be a public good and everybody should be vaccinated free. These vaccines should be free for the entire population on the planet. All vaccine-producing companies should be compensated by the UN or the individual countries for their cost and not for huge profits".

The business magnate appealed to companies who can afford to bear the cost to give the vaccines for free. He also said that UN Security Council members should share a major part of this cost.

It is interesting to note that during the release of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) manifesto for the Bihar assembly elections last month, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had promised a free COVID-19 vaccine once it is cleared by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

Murthy is not an advocate of the work from home option on a permanent basis. He also supports the idea of reopening schools with adequate safety measures.

Pfizer and Moderna, both are racing ahead in the vaccine race with an efficacy rate of more than 90 per cent. But this achievement is not without its own sets of limitations. For once, both Pfizer and Moderna are two-dose vaccines and India would need approximately 3 billion doses for its entire population. Experts have said that the vaccines manufactured by these companies are currently unaffordable for India.

Pfizer's vaccines need to be stored at a temperature of -70 degree celsius which is logistically difficult for India and other poorer countries. However, Moderna's vaccines can be stored at normal room temperatures making it more suitable for India.

Other vaccine candidates include Russia's Sputnik-V whose Phase 2 and 3 human trials will be conducted in India next week. The other experimental vaccines include AstraZeneca and Oxford University's COVISHIELD vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India and India's indigenous vaccine COVAXIN developed by Bharat Biotech.

Also read: COVID-19 vaccine: Pfizer 'very close' to emergency use authorisation

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