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Does govt have Rs 80,000 cr to buy, give out vaccine, Serum Inst chief asks

Experts say even as vaccine is being developed, govt should put in place its strategy for distribution and procurement instead of waiting for the vaccine to be ready

Adar Poonawalla, CEO, Serum Institute
Serum Institute of India is conducting the India trials for the coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca - Covishield.

The chairman of Serum Institute of India, Pune Adar Poonawalla has estimated that the government would need to spend Rs 80,000 crore over the next one year to buy and distribute coronavirus vaccines to everyone in India. 

Questioning the health ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office in a tweet, Poonawalla said, “Quick question: will the government of India have 80,000 crores available, over the next one year? Because that's what @MoHFW_INDIA needs, to buy and distribute the vaccine to everyone in India. This is the next concerning challenge we need to tackle. 

Poonawala 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.”

The expert group on vaccines chaired by V K Paul, member-health, Niti Aayog along with Rajesh Bhushan, Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has met several times to deliberate over the financial resources required for the procurement of Covid-19 vaccine and various options of financing the same. The details of the government's plan have not been shared yet. 

Experts say that while the vaccine is under development, the government should use this time to put in place its strategy for distribution and procurement instead of waiting for the vaccine to be ready. 

Serum Institute of India is conducting the India trials for the coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca - Covishield. 

The company has entered the phase three trials of the vaccine. It is among the three ongoing clinical trials for the coronavirus vaccine in India. Zydus Cadila and Bharat Biotech have completed the recruitments for the phase two trial.

The government is also in talks with Russia to facilitate trials for its vaccine Sputnik V in India and help them scale its manufacturing.