Leading vaccine manufacturers Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech on Monday applauded the government's increased allocation for the healthcare sector and on providing Rs 35,000 crore towards COVID-19 vaccination in 2021-22 fiscal.
"I have provided Rs 35,000 crore for COVID-19 vaccine in this year 2021-22. I'm committed to provide further funds if required. The Budget outlay for health and well being is Rs 2.23 lakh crore in 2021-22 as against BE of Rs 94,452 crore and marks an increase of 137 per cent," she said while presenting 2021-22 Budget in the Lok Sabha.
Commenting on the budget announcements, Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla said that globally, spending on healthcare infrastructure and vaccines have given countries and their economies the best bang for their buck. Investments in these areas have prevented hospitalisations and resulted in a healthier and more productive workforce, thereby leading to an efficient economy, he added.
"Therefore we welcome the FM's emphasis on healthcare spending, and immunisation especially for COVID-19 and the pneumococcal vaccines as this will help India recover rapidly from this pandemic. Hopefully, this will also encourage more innovation and expansion in the sector," Poonawalla said. In a similar vein, Bharat Biotech Chairman & MD Krishna Ella said, "It's a great step ahead, and far-reaching budget announcement, providing Rs 35,000 crore for COVID-19 vaccination in 2021-22". The Finance Minister's commitment for providing more funds in order to contain the coronavirus pandemic spread in the country and to provide an effective, smooth path for the vaccination scheme will help contain, and lead the nation towards accomplishing a COVID-19 disease free Bharat, he added.
"The layout plan of a Rs 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 is also a welcome move, which 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", Ella said. The government's focus on three areas – preventive health, curative health and well-being, is also very reassuring, he added.
India had earlier in January approved two vaccines — Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, 'Covishield' manufactured by SII and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin — for restricted emergency use. The country launched its COVID-19 vaccination drive from January 16 in what Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called the world's largest vaccination drive.