The cost of vaccinating healthcare workers and frontline workers against coronavirus will be born by the central government. Centre will pay for the first 3 crore COVID-19 vaccines administered in the country at the beginning of the vaccination drive, announced Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday. India is set to kick off its vaccination drive against COVID-19 from January 16.
The vaccination drive will prioritise healthcare workers, from public and private hospitals both, the Prime Minister said during a virtual assessment meeting with chief ministers ahead of the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out. Frontline workers, including sanitation workers, other frontline workers, defence forces, police and central forces, home guards, disaster management volunteers, civil defence personnel, revenue officials associated with containment and surveillance, will be the next to receive the vaccine in the first phase. The total number of healthcare workers and frontline workers stands at 3 crore, PM Modi said.
"The first 3 crore people in the first and second round are people associated with our [COVID-19 management] framework engaged in this work for the past one year. We will have to continue with public awareness, but it will become more important after first and second round of vaccination when we inoculate 3 crore people," PM Modi said.
PM Modi also suggested that elected public representatives should be excluded from the 3 crore recipients who will receive the COVID-19 vaccine in the first and second round of Phase I in vaccination drive.
Centre has already clarified in its plan for the vaccination drive that healthcare workers and frontline workers will be prioritised in the first phase of COVID-19 vaccination drive. After them, people aged above 50 years of age and those with co-morbidities.
India has given emergency use authorisation two coronavirus vaccines - Covishield and Covaxin. The former has been jointly developed by University of Oxford and AstraZeneca, and will be manufactured and marketed in India by Serum Institute of India. The latter has been developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech in collaboration with Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and National Institute of Virology (NIV).
Earlier today, Centre placed an order with Serum Institute for millions of doses of Covishield. Involved paperwork has been cleared at both ends. The vaccine manufacturer will make supply the jab to government at Rs 200 per vial.
Both vaccines approved for emergency use in India will be made in the couuntry, PM Modi said, adding that they are more cost-effective than inoculations available in the foreign countries.