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.
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.
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
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.