The government will pay for Coronavirus vaccines for 3 crore healthcare and frontline workers from the PM-Cares funds, sources have told NDTV. The vaccine rollout has been scheduled for January 16 and the one crore healthcare workers and two crore frontline workers will be inoculated first.
The PM-Cares fund, set up in March last year for Covid donations, was targeted earlier by the opposition, which repeatedly questioned how the funds were being used and accused the government of lacking transparency in the matter.
Earlier, the government said the funds were being used to purchase Covid-related infrastructure, including ventilators for hospitals.
Yesterday, the Centre purchased 1.10 crore doses of Covishield vaccine from the Serum Institute of India. A further "commitment" to buy another 4.50 crore doses by April 2021 was also made. The government is paying Rs 200 per dose for the two-dose vaccine.
The delivery started this morning, with the vaccines being flown out of Pune.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that the Centre will give vaccines for the one crore healthcare workers and two crore frontline workers -- including the police, civil defence and sanitation workers -- free of cost.
"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 at a meeting with Chief Ministers of all states yesterday.
There is no word yet on the price factor for 27 crore people over 50 years in age and those with co-morbidities like diabetes and hypertension, who are also expected to be vaccinated in the first phase.