The first consignment of Bharat Biotech's Covaxin landed at Delhi airport via Air India flight AI559 from Hyderabad on Wednesday morning. Bharat Biotech aims to dispatch around 55 lakh vaccines to 11 states in the initial phase, including Delhi, Bengaluru, Lucknow, Chennai and Jaipur.
The government on Monday had placed orders in advanced commitments for over 6 crore doses of COVID vaccine from SII and Bharat Biotech for inoculating 3 crore healthcare and frontline workers in the first phase of the vaccination drive scheduled to start from January 16.
Together, these many vaccines will cost Rs 1,300 crore to the Centre. Bharat Biotech will dispatch 55 lakh vaccines, which are expected to cost around Rs 162 crore, including GST. Similarly, the Centre will buy 1.1 crore doses of vaccines from Serum Institute initially and 4.5 crore more by April. The entire package will cost around Rs 1,100 crore, PTI reported citing sources. The HLL Lifecare Limited, a public sector undertaking, issued the supply order on behalf of the Union Health Ministry.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already said that the Centre will bear the cost of vaccinating nearly three crore healthcare and frontline workers in phase 1 vaccination. During his interaction with chief ministers of different states, he said public representatives, including politicians, should not be part of the initial vaccination exercise.
Describing it as the world's biggest vaccination exercise, PM Modi said India aims to vaccinate around 30 crore people in the next few months, which is way bigger than around 2.5 crore people vaccinated collectively in around 50 countries so far.
He said the two already approved vaccines in India -- Serum's Covishield and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin -- are the most cost-effective, and that they have been developed as per the country's needs. Meanwhile, over 56 lakh of the total 11 crore Covishield doses have been dispatched to as many as 13 cities across India amid tight security on Tuesday.
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