India is ready for the vaccine rollout, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today at a meeting with Chief Ministers to discuss the Covid-19 situation and the states' preparedness for the massive inoculation drive that would cover 30 crore people starting January 16. "The Centre will bear all the costs for the first phase of vaccination" of health workers and frontline workers like the police, civil defence and sanitation workers, PM Modi said in his address, which was live-streamed.
The government has said that one crore healthcare workers and about two crore frontline workers will be the first to be inoculated. People over 50 years and those below 50 who have comorbidities including diabetes, heart disease and other chronic health issues, will be vaccinated next. The total number of this third group will be 27 crore.
"If you look at the number of health and frontline workers across all states, it stands at around 3 crore. It has been decided that state governments will not have to bear the expenses of vaccination of these 3 crore people in the first phase. The government of India will bear these expenses," PM Modi said.
Sources in Adar Punawalla's Serum Institute have said that the government may place purchase orders for the vaccine today. The two-dose vaccine will be sold to the government at Rs 200 per dose for the first 100 million doses.
"India's vaccines are the most cost effective," the Prime Minister said, adding, "The experience India has on vaccination will be very useful in vaccination process... We have to follow protocols during the entire process".
The government has conducted three dry-runs for the vaccine already, two of them were held across the country.
Sources said 11 million doses of Serum Institute's Covishield vaccine -- which received the drug regulator's approval for emergency use along with Bharat Biotech's Covaxin -- will be supplied to the government in the first tranche. The vaccine will be priced at Rs 200 a dose, sources said.