New Delhi, Jun 10, 2021: Days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced free vaccination for everyone in the age group between 18-45 years, the Centre on Thursday said that it has arranged the finances required to undertake the massive drive.
The centre is going to bear the cost of arranging 188 crore doses for 94 crore people, who fall in the age bracket, which is estimated to be between Rs 45,000-50,000 crore. A top finance ministry official said that along with the budgetary provision of Rs 35,000 crore, the government will arrange the remaining cash through supplementary demand.
Meanwhile, in a major boost to the vaccination drive, the Hyderabad-based pharmaceutical company Biological E Limited (BE), which is developing the Biological-E vaccine, is expected to supply 30 crore dosages in the next five months, beginning August 1. Sources told India Today TV that the negotiated cost of each Bio-E vaccine could be as low as Rs 150 or less.
While the government is negotiating a deal with other vaccine makers Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech, a cheaper vaccine from Bio-E would expand the government’s kitty to vaccinate an adequate number of people. While the government has already stitched a deal for a tranche of 53.6 crore vaccines between January 16 to July 31 at 150 per dose, the next round of negotiations are on for another 133.6 crores between August 1 and December 31.Speaking about the advance provided to vaccine manufacturers, the Centre clarified that the money is adjustable against the future supply. The centre is also providing grants for research under a deprecated head but that’s not part of the amount budgeted for vaccination and is being dealt by the Department of Biotechnology. The interesting fact emerging from the Ministry of Health is the need for another cycle of nationwide vaccination similar to the ongoing exercise.
The centre is hopeful that once the first round of two doses for all adults is over, there might be an incremental drop in vaccinations as the country, hopefully, would have gained some amount of herd immunity against Covid-19.
Meanwhile, on the issue of importing foreign vaccines like Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, sources said that negotiations on various conditionalities including indemnity are on. However, since these vaccines come with the need to alter the existing distribution infrastructure and delivery, their cost is not being factored in while calculating the total tab.
Top government sources also maintained that the Rs 45,000-50,000 cost package of vaccination includes the wastage component which is due to the actual wastage of vaccines at health facilities across the country.