In a bid to become the pharmacy of the world, especially during the times of Covid-19, India has exported over 5.84 crore doses of indigenous vaccines to 70 countries, as against 3.48 crore jabs it has administered across the country since the inoculation drive began.
Junior health and family minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday provided the data of 583.85 lakh exported doses.
Meanwhile, the Centre has placed a new purchase order with the Serum Institute of India (SII) for the supply of 10 crore doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, Covishield, each costing Rs 157.50, including GST, according to official sources.
The HLL Lifecare Limited, a public sector undertaking, has issued the supply order on behalf of the Union health ministry on March 12 in the name of Prakash Kumar Singh, Director, Government and Regulatory Affairs at the Pune-based SII.
The cost of the 10 crore doses would be borne by the health ministry under the budgetary allocation for the purpose. The expenditure for the earlier orders of the vaccines was funded through the PM Cares Fund, the sources said.
India has approved two vaccines against COVID-19 — Covishield, manufactured by the SII, and the indigenously-developed Covaxin of Bharat Biotech — for restricted emergency use in the country.
"Vaccines are not being sent to other countries at the expense of people of India. Experts at highest level and a committee of Government are maintaining sensible balance about it…30,39,394 people were vaccinated yesterday. We have touched a total figure (vaccination) of 3 crore," ANI quoted Vardhan as saying in Rajya Sabha.
Vardhan's response came after the Congress raised objections over the central government's move to export the Covid-19 vaccines to foreign countries. The party said that the government should not export vaccines without immunising the entire population of India.