A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the Centre is taking back vaccine-buying from states, the Finance Ministry said the programme will cost around Rs 50,000 crore and the government has the money.
“We don’t need to go for the supplementary grants immediately as there are enough funds. We may have to go for this in the second round, near the winter session of Parliament. At present we have the money,” Finance Ministry sources said.
The sources also indicated that the government is no longer counting on foreign vaccines to meet its vaccine needs.
“Our programme of procurement is centred around Bharat Biotech, Serum Institute and the new Bio-E; we will be able to supply vaccines for the substantial population from these vaccines,” sources said.
Talks with Pfizer and Moderna are reportedly stuck on the indemnity demand by the vaccine makers and their insistence that disputes in India related to their vaccines be taken up in US courts only.
“At present Moderna has no plan to enter till January next year,” said Finance Ministry sources.
Besides Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Serum Institute of India’s Covishield, Russia’s Sputnik V has been cleared for use in the country.
But Sputnik “will not be substantial” in number, said officials, adding, “We haven’t started procurement for this still.”
The government last week said it has booked 30 crore doses of Hyderabad-based Biological-E’s Covid vaccine, which is still in clinical trials. The Health Ministry will make an advance payment of Rs 1,500 crore to the company for what will be the second made-in-India vaccine after Covaxin.
On Dearness Allowance to central government employees, sources said the decision is to give it from July 1 prospectively and not retrospectively with arrears.
“We can’t have both free vaccine and increase in Dearness Allowance with retrospective effect. We have to prioritise and decide what’s more important,” officials said.