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Centre to grant Rs 3,000 crore credit to Serum Institute, Rs 1,500 crore to Bharat Biotech

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New Delhi, Apr 19: The government has approved Rs 3,000 crores credit for Serum Institute of India and Rs 1,500 to Bharat Biotech, in a bid to ramp up COVID-19 vaccine production capacity.

The money will be sanctioned by the finance ministry and will be disbursed to the two pharma firms by the health ministry. However, an official order is expected to be out soon.

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Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today approved an advance payment of Rs 4,567.50 crores to Serum Institute of India & Bharat Biotech. Finance Ministry has approved Rs 3,000 crores for Serum Institute of India & Rs 1567.50 crores for Bharat Biotech, ANI reported quoting sources.

"We are clear that we will give whatever support is necessary to develop and boost the availability of vaccines in the country," an official declining to be identified told Rueters.

So far, two vaccines -- Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine COVISHIELD manufactured by Serum Institute in India and indigenously developed COVAXIN by Bharat Biotech -- are being administered in India, while a third vaccine Sputnik V -- developed in Russia and to be imported and sold in India by Dr Reddy''s Laboratories -- has also been approved by the Indian drug regulator.

Over 12.4 crore shots have been given since India's vaccination drive began January 16.

While the total number of COVID-19 cases is rising at a record pace in India with the total caseload crossing 1.5 crore, the government has allowed everyone above the age of 18 years to be eligible to get vaccinated from May 1.

It has also decided to liberalise the vaccination drive by allowing states, private hospitals and industrial establishments to procure a portion of doses directly from the manufacturers.

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