Govt okays extending aid to vaccine makers
The finance ministry has approved in-principle a move by the Union health ministry to extend advance to vaccine manufacturers involved in making coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine doses to boost the nationwide inoculation drive, a finance ministry official said on condition of anonymity.
A CNBC report on Monday said the government sanctioned ₹4,500 crore supply credit to Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers — Serum Institute of India ( ₹3,000 crore) and Bharat Biotech ( ₹1,500 crore). “The health ministry will work company specific details and provide them advance money so that they ramp up their manufacturing capacities and continue vaccine supplies without interruption,” the official quoted above said.
India is currently inoculating its citizens using two vaccines -- the Oxford/AztraZeneca vaccine manufactured by SII under the brand name Covishield, and Covaxin created by Bharat Biotech and the Indian Council of Medical Research and manufactured by Bharat Biotech.
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Both the companies were seeking to ramp up their vaccine production in the wake of rising demand for Covid-19 vaccines, and looking to raise finances.
The chief executive officer of SII, Adar Poonawalla, in an interview to NDTV this month, said that the company will require around ₹3,000 crore to ramp up production capacity. The company at the moment produces about 50-60 million vaccine doses per month, and has plans of ramping it up to about 100 million doses per month, he added in the interview
In the case of Covaxin, the Centre on Friday announced that it will help double the production capacity of India’s first made-in-India Covid-19 vaccine by May-June 2021 from the existing 10 million doses per month, with a target of helping produce nearly 100 million doses per month by September.
On Friday, the Centre announced releasing ₹65 crore to Bharat Biotech, the maker of Covaxin, to upgrade its production capacity.