There is no fixed schedule for completing the ongoing vaccination campaign in the country, the Health Ministry said in Parliament on Friday. “However, all beneficiaries aged 18 and over are expected to be vaccinated by December 2021,” Bharati Pravin Pawar, Minister of State at the Ministry of Health, told Lok Sabha.
In response to a query from Congressional Leader Rahul Gandhi and Mala Roy from Trinamool Congress, Pawar said there had been no delay in signing purchase agreements with domestic vaccine manufacturers. “Advance payments have also been made to manufacturers for supply orders placed with them,” he said.
The two MPs had asked whether the government had noted a significant delay in entering into advance purchase agreements with vaccine manufacturers, which negatively affected the pace of launching the vaccine.
The government said it had spent more than Rs 9,700 crore on the procurement and operating cost of the vaccines, and placed orders for 1 billion doses through December 2021.
The Health Ministry said in Parliament that there was only a marginal difference in the purchase price of the two vaccines, Covishield at 205 rupees and Covaxin at 215 rupees, excluding taxes. Pawar told the Lok Sabha that the price of the vaccine for government procurement is negotiated by the National Group of Experts on Covid-19 Vaccine Administration (NEGVAC) and its subgroups that involve detailed discussions with vaccine manufacturers. .
He said the cost of the vaccines includes their delivery in a temperature-controlled environment to the destination points communicated by the government to the manufacturer.
The Health Ministry, in response to a separate question, said that as of July 20, 2021, 326 million people had received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. Of them, 85 million had received both injections.
The government has spent Rs 800 crore on the purchase of vaccines out of the budget outlay of Rs 35,000 crore. As of July 20, 2021, 425 million doses have been supplied to states through all sources. More than 403 million doses have been used during the current vaccination campaign.
While it shared data on 11 percent of the total Covid-19 cases reported in people under the age of 20 in the country, the government said clinical trials of vaccines for children were underway.
In the third wave, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said there was no scientific evidence, either from India or globally, to show that children are disproportionately infected with Covid-19, including the delta variant.
He said that health was a state issue and that the Center was providing technical support to help states strengthen their infrastructure. The minister also shared details of how the capacity of ICU beds, ventilators and oxygen has been improved in the country.