New Delhi: India may raise its expenditure on the Covid vaccine to Rs 45,000 crore from its budgeted amount this fiscal year, according to government sources, Reuters reported. The report of the raise, which is over a quarter, came after PM Modi offered free vaccination for all adults in the country. The budgeted amount for the vaccine drive was Rs 35,000 crore.
In an address on Monday, PM Modi said that the government would bear the cost of vaccinating all adults from June 21. The Centre was criticised for asking the states to pay for immunisations for those aged under 45 years.
One of the sources told Reuters that the increase was also due to the rise in the costs of domestically manufactured shots. However, he didn't elaborate much, and the Finance Ministry didn't respond to Reuter's email seeking clarification.
AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India and another vaccine developed at home by Bharat Biotech is currently used in India. In addition, the Sputnik V vaccine, by Russia, is about to launch in the country commercially.
Modi shifted his policy after facing weeks-long criticism regarding a clumsy rollout of vaccines which had covered below 5 per cent of the country's estimated adult population of 950 million. The Covid-19 second wave charged the infected cases up to 18.6 million in the past five months alone.
(based on Reuters report)