Forty-four crore doses of Covid vaccines has been ordered, which will be available from August, amid a raging deficit that has forced a closure of vaccine centers in various states.
These doses will be delivered within August and December 2021, the Union Health Ministry said.
The health ministry statement — that orders have been placed today for 25 crore shots of Covishield and 19 crore shots of Covaxin to achieve universal vaccination — came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared a new vaccine policy.
The new policy drives back the onus of vaccine purchase from the states. Today, the finance ministry said that the new program would cost around ₹ 50,000 crores and the Centre has the necessary funds.
Last week, the government said it had booked 30 crore shots of Hyderabad-based Biological-E’s Covid vaccine supporting the clinical trial.
The procurement problem became a matter of immense 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 criticized the vaccine policy, naming it “prima facie arbitrary and irrational,” and necessitated 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 tell that you’re wrong is not a symbol of weakness, but a mark of strength,” Justice Chandra Chud 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. Under the federal structure, the government was in no position to refuse.
“Many states demanded vaccinations be decentralized. Some voices even questioned prioritizing certain age groups, including the elderly,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in his speech to the nation.
Today, the government and its officials provided repeated communications to the media, on and off the record. Many steps are being taken to increase vaccine availability.