The PM-CARES fund has contributed over Rs 2,200 crore for the first phase of the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive, which is aimed at inoculating frontline and healthcare workers.
The exact collection under the fund, which was set up in March 2020 via voluntary contribution by corporate and individuals, are not known but the reserve has been providing aid to sectors hamstrung by the coronavirus crisis.
While Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has allocated Rs 35,000 crore towards coronavirus vaccination in her budget 2021 speech, more than 82 per cent of the cost towards vaccination during January to March is being borne by the PM-CARES Fund.
Union Expenditure Secretary TV Somanathan told news agency PTI, "For January-March, the vaccination cost is expected to be about Rs 2,700 crore approximately. Part of it is coming from the health ministry and some part of it is funded from the PM CARES Fund. This is for the first round of 3 crore frontline and health workers."
He also stated the entire cost for the first phase will be borne by the Centre. "We had provided extra funds to the health ministry for incidental costs to vaccination. We made an additional allocation of Rs 480 crore just for the 3 crore batch of the vaccination."
The remaining cost of around Rs 2,200 crore will come from the corpus helmed by the Prime Minister and comprising ex-officio members like the defence minister, the home minister and the finance minister.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Sitharaman said that two more coronavirus vaccines will be announced soon."India has two vaccines available and has begun safeguarding not only her citizens against COVID-19 but also those of 100 or more countries. It has added comfort to know that two more vaccines are also expected soon," added Sitharaman.