As India gears up for the coronavirus vaccine, speculations are rife regarding who will foot the bill for the inoculation of 130 crore Indians. Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan who was visiting the Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital in Delhi to review the COVID-19 vaccine dry run said that the vaccine would be free for 'the entire country'. This comes a day after Niti Aayog member and COVID-19 task force head Dr Vinod Paul said that the government would pitch in for the vaccination of 30 crore priority people and not the entire country.
While visiting the hospital, Dr Harsh Vardhan was asked if the vaccine would be free or if people would have to pay for it. The reporter asked if it will be free like it will be in Delhi. "Not only Delhi, it will be free for the entire country," said the minister.
Talking about the vaccine, the minister urged people not to pay heed to any rumours. He said India became free of polio disease because of the vaccine. "I want to appeal to people to not believe in any rumors. Our prime criteria in the vaccine trial is the safety and efficacy and nothing will be compromised... Different kinds of rumours were also spread during polio immunisation, but people took the vaccine and now India is polio-free," he said.
Dr Vinod Paul on Friday had said that the government will pitch in for 30 crore people and not the entire population. "India will pitch for vaccines for 300 million individuals," said Dr Paul further explaining that healthcare workers will be targeted in the immediate phase of the vaccination drive.
A vaccination dry run is being conducted across the country today. This is the second dry run in the country. Earlier, on December 28 and 29, four states -- Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Punjab -- conducted the first COVID-19 vaccine dry run. The aim of the dry run is to test the linkages between planning and implementation so that the challenges in the process can be identified. The Co-WIN application, developed to assist in the vaccination drive, will also be tested in this process.