Centre will bear cost of 1st phase of vaccination: Modi
The Centre will bear the entire cost of vaccinating 30 million health care and frontline workers — employees across government departments, the police and civic bodies — at the start of the world’s biggest immunisation drive against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday.
According officials who did not want to be named, the cost for this phase could be around ₹10,000 crore.
Modi hailed the two made-in-India vaccines that have received emergency use authorisation from the Drug Controller General of India — Serum Institute of India’s Covisheld and Bharat Biotech International’s Covaxin — as a matter of pride for India because the country doesn’t have to depend on expensive, imported antidotes to the viral disease.
In his last meeting by video link with state chief ministers five days before the vaccination campaign gets underway, Modi said some more vaccines are in the pipeline and expected to arrive by the time India starts inoculating senior citizens and those with comorbidities.
He also rebutted past criticism that India’s progress towards the vaccination drive had been slow. He cautioned states not to let rumours and misinformation to gain currency; many vested interest groups or even corporate rivals may try to derail India’s vaccination programme
India intends to vaccinate 300 million people in the first phase of the drive, turning its attention to people above 50 years of age and those below 50 with comorbidities, after administering the shot to health-care and front-line workers who are at the vanguard of the fight against the pandemic that has left how many people dead and affected in India.
Monday’s meeting with the chief ministers marked the first time that the PM held out a categorical assurance that the Centre would pick up the bill for the vaccination of health-care and front-line workers -- the two groups that have worked untiringly in the past 10 months.
“The total number of such personnel is around three crore. State governments will not have to bear any cost towards vaccinating these three crore people in the first stage. Centre will bear this cost,” Modi told the CMs.
Citing the indigenously produced vaccines, the PM said: “Both vaccines are more cost-effective. Just imagine, if India had to depend on foreign vaccines, what would have been our situation?”
According to officials who requested anonymity, the government has earmarked ₹50,000 crore to cover the vaccination campaign while the infrastructure and logistics of the universal immunization programme will be used to support the Covid-19 vaccine drive. According to officials, the vaccination will run parallelly to the regular immunization programme with different dates and slots for the two.
The PM also underlined that India the made-in-India vaccines would go to neighbours as well as other friendly countries, adding: “We have to be more responsible.”
There will be another interaction between the PM and the states before the vaccination of the elderly and those with comorbidities starts. It will be the most complex part of the campaign in terms of transportation of vaccines, outreach and the number of vaccination sites, including mobile centres that will be dispatched to difficult terrain.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee argued that adequate scientific opinions should be obtained before confirming the safety and efficacy of both vaccines, while she also requested clarification on whether there might be any side-effects after vaccination, according to a statement released by the state government.
“She submitted that optimal number of trials and fool-proof studies through such trials were needed before vaccinations were unequivocally advised in favour of both the vaccines,” it said.
Andhra Pradesh chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, who too participated in the video conference, said the state government was well-prepared to roll out the vaccine.
Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa said of the 30 million vaccinations beginning January 16, the state will get about 1.6 million doses in the first phase.
“Health, revenue and police officials would get the first dose and after 28 days the second dose would be given to them. Already 235 centres across the state have been identified for this,” he said.
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