India can afford free vaccination, says Nobel laureate economist Abhijit Banerjee

Dr Abhijit Banerjee feels the government needs to dispense cash to the poor should another lockdown be round the corner.Image Credit: AP

Dr Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee, the Nobel laureate economist, felt India have the resources to vaccinate people of the country free of cost to fight the deadly second wave of COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

‘‘My opinion is it’s not beyond India’s reach to conduct a mass vaccination drive free of cost. It’s for the public good as a vaccinated person not only protects one self, but also not in a position to spread the infection. It’s not beyond India’s means to do it but if they want two of the existing vaccine manufacturers in the country to ramp up the production for it, then it will need a long time,’’ said the India-born American economist, currently the Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

‘‘There has to be large scale import to meet the needs to create a scenario where the common vaccines should be made readily available to people. Thereafter, if anyone wants to take a vaccine of their choice like Pfizer etc, they can do it on their own,’’ he said.