Developing a coronavirus vaccine might just be the tip of the iceberg. From thereon starts logistical complexities. The government is now considering a plan that will allow important businesses, especially large ones, to strike a deal with coronavirus vaccine manufacturers. Most of India's vaccines would be funded by the state and would cost around Rs 50,000 crore. Experts also believe that not everyone would be able to get a shot of the vaccine in 2021.
The Centre is deliberating allowing companies to secure vaccine doses directly and early on to ensure that there is no disruption of key economic activities, stated a report in Hindustan Times. The proposal would have to be cleared by the Prime Minister's Office.
A special window would be available for the companies, the daily said. It is yet to be decided on which companies would be eligible to buy directly from vaccine makers but petroleum, steel, pharma, cement and coal companies are likely to be on the list. When developed, companies would be able to procure the COVID-19 vaccine for its employees, which would otherwise be administered to health workers, patients with co-morbidities and the aged population initially.
This deliberation comes as India is already struggling to bring back the economy on track after the Q1 GDP contracted by 23.9 per cent. Meanwhile, the government has been unlocking the country in phases and in keeping in mind the increasing coronavirus cases. While most activities have resumed, many industries are working in low capacity.
The government is already in touch with states, vaccine makers and other stakeholders for a distribution and administration plan of COVID-19 vaccines.
The University of Oxford-AstraZeneca's vaccine candidate, manufactured by Serum Institute of India is in its third phase of trials in India. Zydus Cadila and Bharat Biotech's COVID-19 vaccine candidates are also under clinical trial.