In a massive boost to up vaccine production, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday, approved an advance payment of Rs 4,567.50 crores to Serum Institute of India (SII) & Bharat Biotech (BBL), as per ANI sources. SII has been approved Rs 3,000 crores while BBL has been approved Rs 1567.50 crores by the Finance Ministry to ramp up COVID-19 vaccine production. This move comes after the Centre's grant to BBl and three other PSUs to enhance COVAXIN production.
#COVID19 | Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today approved an advance payment of Rs 4,567.50 crores to Serum Institute of India & Bharat Biotech. Finance Ministry has approved Rs 3,000 crores for Serum Institute of India & Rs 1567.50 crores for Bharat Biotech: Sources— ANI (@ANI) April 19, 2021
Earlier this month, SII CEO Adar Poonawalla had asked the government for a financial grant of Rs 3000 crores to ramp up production from the current 5-6 crore doses/month to beyond 10 crore doses/month. Several vaccine manufacturers like Biological E, Gennova and SII, have sought support from the Department of Biotechnology to avail from the Rs 900-crore Covid Suraksha fund. Centre has already provided a grant of Rs 65 crores to COVAXIN manufacturer - Bharat Biotech to enhance their production capacity at their new Bengaluru plant - touching 6-7 crore vaccine doses/month by July.
Apart from Bharat Biotech, three public sector companies - Haffkine Biopharmaceutical Corporation Ltd , Mumbai, Indian Immunologicals Limited, Hyderabad and Bharat Immunologicals & Biologicals Limited, Bulandshahr too have been given grants to enhance their production capacity. While Haffkine will produce 20 million doses per month within six months, the other two will produce 10-15 million doses per month by Aug-Sep 2021. Most states have exhausted their stock of COVAXIN, while the Centre assures that more doses are in pipeline.
Centre has also decided that everyone above the age of 18 to be eligible to get vaccine against Covid-19 and vaccine manufacturers will be incentivized to further scale up their production, as well as attract new national and international players. Vaccine manufacturers have been empowered to release up to 50% of their supply to state govts and in the open market at a pre-declared price. Private vaccination providers shall transparently declare their self-set vaccination price and eligibility through this channel would be opened up to all adults, i.e. everyone above the age of 18 years.
Decentralising the vaccination process, Centre has empowered states to procure additional vaccine doses directly from the manufacturers, as well as open up vaccination to any category of people above the age of 18 for the same. The Centre's vaccination drive will continue as before, providing free vaccination for essential and priority populations as defined earlier i.e HCWs, FLWs and population above 45 years, with administering the second dose on priority. Govt of India, from its share, will allocate vaccines to States/UTs based on criteria of extent of infection (number of active COVID cases) & performance (speed of administration). India has administered 12,42,64,553 doses till date across India with 10,80,34,647 receiving the first dose.