Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of Serum Institute of India, the world's largest manufacturer of vaccines by volume, has asked the union government can pick up the challenge of a Rs 80,000 crore bill for administering the vaccine to everyone in the country.
“Will the Government of India have Rs 80,000 crore available over the next one year,” Poonawalla tweeted on Saturday, highlighting the challenges in vaccine production and distribution in the country.
According to Poonawalla's tweet, Rs 80,000 crore is the estimated cost of distributing the vaccine to all in India.
Serum Institute is currently conducting trials of COVID vaccine candidates ahead of its mass production.
COVISHEILD, a vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and pharma giant AstraZeneca, which is being tested here, is undergoing Phase 2 and Phase 3 human trials.
"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," Poonawalla elaborated.
In an earlier interview with NDTV, Poonawalla had mentioned that each dose of COVISHEILD vaccine is likely to cost Rs 1,000. He estimated that India will require about 30 million doses per month and that it could take about up to two years for the entire country to be inoculated. India's lack of experience and infrastructure too is cause for concern.
During his Independence Day speech last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had assured the nation that when a viable vaccine is ready, the government will ensure that it reaches every Indian.
The number of COVID cases in India is nearing the 6 million-mark with over 85,000 cases reported on Saturday.