COVID-19 vaccine: Will government have Rs 80,000 crore for distribution, asks Serum Institute CEO
Rs 80,000 crore will be the cost of vaccinating everyone in India with the Covid-19 vaccine whenever it is available. Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of the Serum Institute of India (SII) on Saturday asked the Indian government whether Rs 80,000 crore will be available over the next one year to buy the Covid vaccine and distribute it to everyone.
SII is the world's largest manufacturer of vaccines and is conducting trials of Covid vaccine candidates like the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine.
"Quick question: will the Government of India have 80,000 crores available over the next one year? Because that is what the Ministry of
Health needs to buy and distribute the vaccine to everyone in India. This is the next concerning challenge we need to tackle," Poonawalla said.
"I ask this question, because we need to plan and guide, vaccine manufacturers both in India and overseas to service the needs of our country in terms of procurement and distribution," he added. Vaccine manufacturers intend to sell to governments who will then distribute and vaccinate the Covid vaccine. Poonawalla had told IANS in an interview, "It is too early to comment on the vaccine's price.
However, we will keep it under Rs 1000. Having said that, our aim is to provide an efficacious and affordable vaccine. We are certain that it will be procured and distributed by governments without charge."
Poonawalla had said that as per the arrangement with AstraZeneca, SII will be making one billion doses of COVISHIELD over the next one year for India and other low-and-middle-income countries (GAVI countries). Once we get necessary regulatory approvals, we will start manufacturing in large volumes. SII has said it will not take profit from the vaccine. "In the interest of public health and as one of the largest vaccine producers it is our responsibility to make the vaccine affordable for the public at-large," he had said.