NEW DELHI: The expenditure to be incurred as operational cost for COVID-19 vaccination of estimated three crore healthcare and frontline workers is about Rs 480 crore and vaccines' cost is about Rs 1,392 crore, Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey told the Rajya Sabha on Monday.
In response to a question on whether the government plans to distribute the vaccine free of cost to any section of population in the country, the minister said, "Presently, the vaccine is being provided free of cost to healthcare workers and frontline workers."
As on February 4, a total of 96.28 lakh healthcare workers and 78.51 lakh frontline workers have been identified for COVID-19 vaccination, he said in a written reply.
The database of frontline workers is in the process of getting updated on the Co-Win digital platform, he said.
"The expenditure to be incurred as operational cost for vaccination of estimated 3 crore healthcare workers and frontline workers is about Rs 480 crore and vaccines cost is about Rs 1392.82 crore," Choubey said.
Two COVID-19 vaccines -- Covishield manufactured by Serum Institute of India and Covaxin manufactured by Bharat Biotech International Limited -- have been granted permission for restricted use in emergency situation by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) so far.
These two vaccines have been procured for COVID-19 vaccination drive in the country which began on January 16.
Till January 26, a total of 200 lakh doses of Covishield and 28.03 lakh doses of Covaxin have been supplied, Choubey said.
The National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) provides guidance on all aspects of vaccination including prioritisation of population groups for vaccination.
The NEGVAC has prioritised healthcare and frontline workers during the initial phase of COVID-19 vaccination followed by prioritized population groups of persons aged 50 years and above, and those aged less than 50 years with comorbidities.
Presently, the vaccine is being provided free of cost to healthcare and frontline workers, Choubey said.
The budget allocation of Rs 480 crore has been made for meeting the operational cost for COVID-19 vaccination of healthcare and frontline workers, in addition to the cost of the vaccines, Choubey said.
Further, in the Union Budget 2021-22, an outlay of Rs 35,000 crore has been made towards COVID-19 vaccination and a commitment to provide further funds, if required, has also been expressed.