#Budget2021: Stakeholders welcome Rs 35,000 crore outlay for COVID-19 vaccines

Experts believe that the largest ever allocation in the history of the vaccine industry would catalyze research and development efforts in the area

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New Delhi: The Chairman and Managing Director of vaccine major, Bharat Biotech, Dr Krishna Ella, has expressed his appreciation for the massive budget allocation for COVID-19 vaccine development and rollout. “It’s a great step ahead, and far-reaching budget announcement, providing ₹35,000 crore for Covid-19 vaccination in 2021-22,” he said.
“The Finance Minister’s commitment providing more funds in order to contain the Coronavirus pandemic spread in the country and provide an effective, smooth path for the vaccination scheme will help contain, and lead our nation towards accomplishing a covid-19 disease-free Bharat,” Dr Ella added.
Calling the layout plan of a ₹64,180 crore spending plan for healthcare over the next six years to be spent on primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare, in addition to the National Health Mission a welcome move Dr Ella says the move will strengthen public health services as 17,000 rural and 11,000 urban health and wellness centres and integrated public health labs to be set up in each district.
“The government focus, on three areas –  preventive health, curative health and well-being, is also very reassuring.” Dr Ella added, “with this landmark budget the Government of India has signalled its intention to make health a cornerstone of the future success of our country. The allocation to vaccines signals a shift to preventive health care, a validation of the fact that vaccines are the most cost-effective health care interventions.”
Dr K Anand Kumar, Managing Director, Indian Immunologicals feels the Union Budget has laid a significant focus on healthcare which would strengthen the foundation of a healthy nation. He opines, “With an increase of 137% from last year, the allocation of INR 2.23 lac crores for the primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare along with the steps to set up health and wellness centres across the country will immensely help especially the economically weaker section of the society making quality healthcare more affordable. Making specific funds available for the vaccination for COVID-19 as well as pneumococcal will help to combat the pandemic and save precious lives. It is really encouraging that the government is trying to promote the growth of hospital infrastructure through PPP mode.”
As per Dr Gajendra Singh, Public Health Expert said,” Presently the vaccine drive is going strong in the country with Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin which are catering to the Indian population. However, to increase the prospect of adequate supplies to inoculate some 30 crore priority population by July, the government is looking forward to the probability of 2 more vaccines by the end of April.”
As of now, Pfizer’s application for emergency authorization is under examination. It would be interesting to understand its supply possibilities to boost India’s priority vaccination programme. Apart from these three, Russia’s Sputnik V may also be available by April.
“Given the demand of the densely populated country like India and India’s commitment to other countries, it is important for the Indian government to give approvals to a large variety of vaccines only then, everyone can be reached out. Having said that, safety and efficacy can’t be compromised at any cost,” stated Dr Singh.