According to the Union Finance Ministry, the Indian Government will be spending about INR 10,000 crore to vaccinate around 30 crore citizens in the Phase-1 of the COVID-19 vaccination program.
The Central Government will be funding the first phase of the vast vaccination drive. Though some states, including Bihar and Kerala, have declared to provide coronavirus vaccine free of cost, many states are yet to make such an announcement.
However, the Center is reluctant to take loans from international banks for supporting the nation-wide vaccination drive.
India already has support from COVAX Facility, a global initiative to provide vaccines to low and middle-income economies through a fund known as the Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator. The government is currently in talks with GAVI, the vaccine alliance, over a vaccination support package.
According to the National Expert Group on Vaccines (NEGVAC), the Phase-1 priority group of 30 crore people includes:
- One crore healthcare workers, including doctors, nurses, and paramedical staff
- Two crore frontline and essential workers
- 27 crore elderly (>50 years) with underlying conditions such as diabetes, heart diseases, or liver ailments
In the Phase-1 vaccination program, India needs 600 million vaccine doses to inoculate 30 crore people.
As of now, three vaccines developed by Pfizer, Bharat Biotech, and Serum Institute of India (SII) are in the fray for Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI). However, the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine by SII is the most likely candidate to be ready and checked for safety in the first phase of vaccination.
The SII has earlier informed that it would produce 500 million Covid-19 vaccine doses by March 2021, with an estimated cost of INR 250 per dose.
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