New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: As the vaccine against the coronavirus arrived at 13 different locations across the country for the world's largest inoculation drive today, the government on Tuesday said that it will procure 55 lakh doses of BharatBiotech's Covaxin vaccine against the coronavirus for the first phase of the inoculation drive starting from January 16. Of the total doses, 38.5 lakh doses will be procured at Rs 295 per dose, while over 16 lakh have been given free of cost by the Indian developer to the Central government, as a special gesture for the pandemic ridden country, in which over a crore people have been afflicted by the deadly virus. 

In a press briefing in Delhi, the Union Health Ministry also said that around  '1.1 crore doses of Covishield vaccine, which has been manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII), will also be procured along with the Bharat Biotech's vaccine, at a cost of Rs 200 per dose, excluding taxes. 

"As many as 110 lakh (1.1 crore) doses of Covishield vaccine are being procured from the Serum Institute of India at a cost of Rs 200 per dose, excluding taxes. A total of 55 lakh doses of Covaxin vaccine are being procured from Bharat Biotech," Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said during a press conference.

"The cost of 38.5 lakh doses of Covaxin is Rs 295 per dose, excluding taxes. Bharat Biotech is providing 16.5 lakh doses of Covaxin free of cost to the Central government. Hence, the cost of Covaxin comes to Rs 206 per dose," he added.

The first batch of vaccines left for some 13 locations from across the country including Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad today morning. Till 4 p.m., about 54,72,000 doses were received by the states and Union Territories. The government has said that by January 14, 100 per cent doses will be delivered to the states and Union Territories. The much-awaited Covid-19 vaccination drive will kick-off on January 16.

The Central government plans to vaccinate nearly 30 crore people in the first phase of the drive. Priority will be given to the healthcare and frontline workers who are estimated to be around three crore, followed by those above 50 years of age and the under-50 population with comorbidities numbering around 27 crore.

On January 3, two vaccines -- Bharat Biotech's Covaxin and Oxford-AstraZeneca's Covishield manufactured by the Serum Institute of India -- were approved for 'restricted emergency use'. Few more vaccines are in the pipeline and are conducting trials.

Posted By: Talibuddin Khan