Bihar clears ₹4,000cr for free vaccination to all aged 18-45 years
The Bihar cabinet on Friday approved allocation of ₹4,000 crore for Covid-19 vaccine to be given free of cost to all aged between 18 and 45 years this fiscal.
The cabinet also gave its nod for allowing the health department to rope in qualified firms to supply medical oxygen to all government hospitals and the policy to encourage setting up of plants for generation of medical oxygen.
As the vaccination for all those aged between 18 and 45 was scheduled to start from May 1, the cabinet meeting was scheduled urgently on Friday to approve the fund allocation for vaccine procurement, said a senior official who was present in the meeting. The cabinet meetings are usually held on Tuesdays.
Officials, however, said the fresh vaccination drive is unlikely to take off as scheduled for want of adequate doses of vaccines, even though the cabinet approved the release of ₹1000 crore from the total allocation of fund for vaccination. They said the state government had sought supply of around 1 crore doses of vaccines from Serum institute of India (producer of Covishield) and Bharat Biotech (Covaxin), but the firms declined sending the consignment to the state for want of vaccines’ availability. SII and Bharat Biotech had assured to supply the vaccine by 3rd week of May, they said.
The department has been allocated ₹90 crore to ensure uninterrupted oxygen supply all medical college and hospitals for the next five years. As per the agreement, the engaged firms are deemed to develop cryogenic storage for liquid oxygen in the hospital premises. Premier medical colleges used to consume medical oxygen worth over ₹2 crore per annum.
In another important decision, the cabinet also approved the oxygen policy under which the government would offer up to 30% subsidy on cost of establishing oxygen generation plant to any private investor in the state.
The formal press briefing of the cabinet decisions, however, was put off owing to death of Bihar chief secretary Arun Kumar Singh, a 1987-batch IAS officer, due to Covid in a private hospital on Friday.