The Centre will make 44 crore doses of Covid vaccines available to the country from August, the Union Health Ministry said Tuesday 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, he said.
Orders have been placed for 44 crore doses (25 crore doses of Covishield and 19 crore doses of Covaxin) to achieve universalization of vaccination. The announcement of the health ministry 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.
Meanwhile, the finance ministry said today that the new programme will cost around ₹ 50,000 crore and the Centre has the necessary funds.
Last week, the government said it has booked 30 crore doses of Hyderabad-based Biological-E’s Covid vaccine, which is undergoing clinical trial.
The procurement issue became a matter of huge controversy as the coronavirus ravaged the country in the second wave and exposed the massive shortcomings in the healthcare sector, especially in rural areas.
The Supreme Court strongly criticised the vaccine policy, calling it “prima facie arbitrary and irrational” and demanded a blueprint of the way ahead. The judges strongly hinted that a do-over was in order.
“Let me tell you from my experience as a Judge — the ability to say that you’re wrong is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength,” Justice Chandrachud had said.
The Centre has repeatedly blamed the states for the vaccine policy of May that went awry, saying the states wanted to buy the vaccines and under the federal structure, the government was in no position to refuse.