India : 44 crore doses ordered by the government after change in vaccination policy
Forty-four crore doses of Covid vaccines has been ordered which will be available from August, the government today said amid a raging shortage that has forced a closure of vaccine centres in many states. These doses will be delivered between August and December 2021, the Union Health Ministry said.
The health ministry announcement that orders have been placed today for 25 crore doses of Covishield and 19 crore doses of Covaxin to achieve universalisation of vaccination came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a fresh vaccine policy.
The new policy takes back the onus of vaccine purchase from the states. The finance ministry said today that the new programme will cost around ₹ 50,000 crore and the Centre has the necessary funds. These 44 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccines will be available till December 2021, starting today. Additionally, 30 per cent of the advance for procurement of both vaccines has been released to Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech, the ministry said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said that from June 21, the Centre will provide free COVID-19 vaccines to all states for inoculation of citizens above the age of 18. He said 25 per cent of work being done by states relating to COVID-19 vaccination will now be handled by the Centre. The Centre will procure COVID-19 vaccines from manufacturers and give them to the states for free, he said.
For the country, the government had earlier promised a total of 2.16 billion doses of vaccine till December, enough to cover nearly 95 crores of the country’s adult population. But experts have raised doubts on the claimed figures, given the production capacity of vaccine makers and the proposed expansion plans so far.
The uncertainties on the projected figures have been further raised due to the fact that the government had earlier said that 75 crore doses of Covishield and 55 crore doses of Covaxin will be available between August-December but has not shared a specific roadmap on the production ramp-up necessary to achieve the target.