The Centre will assess all coronavirus vaccines before signing purchase agreements with firms.
The government is going to assess efficacy data of all concerned companies (working on COVID-19 vaccines) before inking a purchase contract with them and will buy vaccines at least for essential workers, an official told the Economic Times.
The development follows Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla's tweet last Saturday saying that the government would need "Rs 80,000 crore over the next one year to buy and distribute COVID-19 vaccines to everyone in India and this is going to be the next challenge the country needs to tackle."
Quick question; will the government of India have 80,000 crores available, over the next one year? Because that's what @MoHFW_INDIA needs, to buy and distribute the vaccine to everyone in India. This is the next concerning challenge we need to tackle. @PMOIndia— Adar Poonawalla (@adarpoonawalla) September 26, 2020
Poonawalla's statement came as governments across the world devise their plan of action (regarding COVID-19 vaccine) by procuring doses directly from companies.
Meanwhile, the Centre is yet to announce any plans to purchase vaccines from companies producing them. Presently, there are four vaccine candidates in late-stage trials in the country.
Explaining the rationale of his question, Poonawalla further tweeted asking the government if it will have Rs 80,000 crore at its disposal over the next one year because that's what the health ministry would require to purchase and distribute the coronavirus vaccine to everyone in India.
"I ask this question, because we need to plan and guide vaccine manufacturers both in India and overseas to service the needs of our country in terms of procurement and distribution," the SII CEO said in his tweet.
I ask this question, because we need to plan and guide, vaccine manufacturers both in India and overseas to service the needs of our country in terms of procurement and distribution.— Adar Poonawalla (@adarpoonawalla) September 26, 2020
Zydus Cadila, Biological E, SII, and Bharat Biotech have so far invested their own capital to start the COVID-19 vaccine trial.
While Biological E has joined hands with Johnson & Johnson and is also likely to get a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, SII has already received $150 million (around Rs 1,100 crore) in grant from the Gates foundation to produce vaccines for low-and-middle-income countries.