New Vaccine Plan To Cost Rs 50,000 Crore, Say Finance Ministry Sources

"We don't need to go for the supplementary grants immediately as there are enough funds. We may have to go for this in the second round, near the winter session of Parliament. At present we have the money," Finance Ministry sources said.

Talks with Pfizer and Moderna are reportedly stuck on the indemnity demand by the vaccine makers.

New Delhi:

A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the Centre is taking back vaccine-buying from states, the Finance Ministry said the programme will cost around Rs 50,000 crore and the government has the money.

"We don't need to go for the supplementary grants immediately as there are enough funds. We may have to go for this in the second round, near the winter session of Parliament. At present we have the money," Finance Ministry sources said.

The sources also indicated that the government is no longer counting on foreign vaccines to meet its vaccine needs.

"Our programme of procurement is centred around Bharat Biotech, Serum Institute and the new Bio-E; we will be able to supply vaccines for the substantial population from these vaccines," sources said.

Talks with Pfizer and Moderna are reportedly stuck on the indemnity demand by the vaccine makers and their insistence that disputes in India related to their vaccines be taken up in US courts only.

"At present Moderna has no plan to enter till January next year," said Finance Ministry sources.

Besides Bharat Biotech's Covaxin and Serum Institute of India's Covishield, Russia's Sputnik V has been cleared for use in the country.

But Sputnik "will not be substantial" in number, said officials, adding, "We haven't started procurement for this still."

The government last week said it has booked 30 crore doses of Hyderabad-based Biological-E's Covid vaccine, which is still in clinical trials. The Health Ministry will make an advance payment of Rs 1,500 crore to the company for what will be the second made-in-India vaccine after Covaxin.

The Supreme Court had last week asked the Centre to provide details of all vaccine purchases made so far. 

Government sources today said from January to 31st July, a total of 53.6 crore vaccine doses will be available for use. The Centre bought 12 crore vaccine doses between March and May at a cost of Rs 1,890 crore. Another 16 crore doses of vaccine were ordered on May 5  --- for May, June and July -- for Rs 2,520 crore, sources said. 

The funds for both purchases were drawn from the Budget, sources said. Rs 150 was added to the cost of each vaccine dose on account of GST or Goods and Services tax, sources said.

Besides, 6.6 crore doses were purchased from the PM-CARES Fund. These include 5.6 million doses of Covishield and 10 million doses of Covaxin. For this, Rs 1,392.825 crore was paid, sources said.

States, union territories and private hospitals also made direct purchase of the vaccine - which added up to 18 crore doses of Covishield, 5 crore doses of Covaxin and 20 million doses of Sputnik V.

In addition, 10 million doses of Covishield were received from the Gavi Covax facility, which have already been put into use.  

Finance Ministry sources also spoke about Dearness Allowance to central government employees and said the decision is to give it from July 1 "prospectively and not retrospectively with arrears".

"We can't have both free vaccine and increase in Dearness Allowance with retrospective effect. We have to prioritise and decide what's more important," officials said.