Vaccine cost: Centre dispute figures of Serum CEO

Vaccine cost: Centre dispute figures of Serum CEO

Days after Adar Poonawalla expressed concern over the Government’s financial ability to vaccinate the entire population against the Covid-19, the Union Health Ministry  has contested the Rs 80, 000 crore estimate put out by the CEO of the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer and which is conducting trials of a potential Covid vaccine.

Health Ministry Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Tuesday told reporters that he does n’t agree with the figure put forth by Poonawalla for buying and distribution of Covid-19 vaccine in the country and that the government has “sufficient funds”.

“As far as we are concerned, we do not agree with the calculation of Rs 80,000 crore. The government has made a National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration and they have held five meetings so far. In these meetings, we have mulled over the process of Covid-19 vaccine distribution and the amount required for it in terms of prioritisation of population and the staggered immunisation for this prioritisation. In the meetings, we have calculated the amount required and currently, that amount is available with the government,” he said.

Earlier on September 26, Poonawalla had tweeted, "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". He had tagged the Prime Minister's Office and the ministry of health and family welfare in his tweet.

The Serum Institute is currently engaged in Phase-111 human clinical trials of ‘Covishield’, the corona vaccine being developed by the Oxford University. Once approved, the Institute is set to manufacture six crore doses per month which will be increased to 10 crore per month by April 2021.


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