Govt needs Rs80,000 crore over next year to vaccinate everyone against Covid-19: SII chief
India will need to spend around Rs80,000 crore over the next year to give the Sars-Cov-2 vaccine to all its citizens, the chief executive of Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) said in a tweet on Saturday, while asking the government whether it is prepared for such funding.
SII is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer and has partnered with multiple vaccine manufacturers that have candidates in clinical trials, including a widely watched one by Oxford University and AstraZeneca. If any of these vaccines are approved, SII is expected to produce around 400mn of them by the end of the year.
“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,” said SII’s CEO Adar Poonawalla, while also tagging the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) twitter handle.
He was quick to add another tweet explaining the reason behind him asking the question.
“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,” Poonawalla said.
Officials in the PMO refused to respond to queries on the tweet.
Experts indicated the government will need to step in over the pricing issue as well. “Forget about it. The vaccine will have to be taken over by govt and reasonably priced providing it free to the poor and govt health care givers... the rest pay and buy as per the administered price. Can perhaps be covered under Insurance to be examined,” K Sujatha Rao, former secretary of health and family welfare ministry, said in reply to Poonawalla’s tweet.
It was not immediately clear how Poonawalla arrived at the figure.