Govt released ₹8k cr for jabs: RTI response
A little over ₹8,000 crore has been released by the government from the Covid-19 vaccination budget of ₹35,000 crore so far, the government’s response to a Right To Information (RTI) application has revealed.
This includes ₹4,488.75 crore on 285 million doses (210 million of Covishield, the Indian version of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine made by Serum Institute of India; and 75 million of Covaxin, made by Bharat Biotech), at ₹157.5 a dose.
It also includes an advance of 30%, or ₹2,079 crore, on the further purchase of 440 million doses (250 million of Covishield and 190 million of Covaxin).
Finally, it includes an advance of ₹1,500 crore on the purchase of 300 million doses of a vaccine being developed (it is currently in Phase 3 trials) by Biological E.
That’s aggregates to ₹8,067.75 crore for 1.025 billion vaccines.
In addition, the government has already disclosed that India’s vaccine drive kicked off with a ₹1,485.5 crore spend from the PM Cares Fund on 56 million Covishield doses (at ₹210 each) and 10 million Covaxin doses (at ₹309.75 each).
All told, then, India has spent ₹9,553.25 crore so far, on 1.091 billion vaccine doses.
The RTI was filed by transparency activist Commodore Lokesh Batra (retd).
“The Union Budget 2021-22 provides for ₹35,000 crores for Covid-19 Vaccination out of this Rs. 8m067.75 crore has been released to the HLL Lifecare Limited (Procurement Agency for MoHFW) (in this amount ₹2,079 crores is 30% advance payment, not the full payment) till date towards procurement of Covid-19 vaccine(s) Covishield (46 crore or 460 million doses ) manufactured by M/s Serum Institute of India and Covaxin (26.5 crore or 265 million doses) manufactured by M/s Bharat Biotech International Limited at the unit cost of Rs. 157.5 including taxes (Rs. 150 + 5% GST),” according to the RTI response from the Covid-19 vaccine administration cell under the health ministry.
The Supreme Court, on June 2, termed the government’s vaccine policy “arbitrary” and asked for documents and data establishing the logic behind it. On June 7, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced free vaccination for all, and also stated that the Union government would take charge of procuring vaccines and allocating them to states. The following day, the government announced a deal it signed a day before to buy 440 million doses from SII and Bharat Biotech, to be delivered between August and December. A 30% advance has been made towards this.
After the initial order from PM Cares Fund, the government placed two subsequent orders (one in mid-April and another on April 22) for the supply of a total of 210 million doses of Covishield and 75 million doses of Covaxin according to publicly available information.
According to the response provided in the RTI, the next order was to Biological E for 300 million doses. This order, according to the RTI, was placed on June 6. “For this purpose, the Union Ministry of Health would be making an advance payment of ₹1,500 crore to M/s Biological-E. (for more detail you may visit Press Information Bureau, Government of India’s website www.pib.gov.in then go to Home All Press Release then Select Ministry (Ministry of Health & Family Welfare) select Date, Month, Year for date wise release/information. (03.06.2021),” the response stated.
On the same day, an advance payment of ₹2,079 crore was also released to HLL Lifecare to procure 250 million more doses of Covishield and 190 million more doses of Covaxin. “Rs. 2,079 crore (was paid) as 30% advance payment to the HLL Lifecare Limited (Procurement Agency for MoHFW) for procuring the Covid-19 vaccines (Covishield 25 crore (250 million) doses and Covaxin19 crore (190 million) doses) at the unit cost of ₹157.50/- including taxes (Rs. 150 + 5% GST),” the response added.