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Does Centre have Rs 80,000 crore for COVID-19 vaccine, asks SII's Adar Poonawalla

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New Delhi, Sep 26: Hinting at an impending challenge in fight against the coronavirus pandemic, Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla on Saturday asked if the central government has Rs 80,000 crore to spend over the next one year on purchase and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.

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"Quick question; will the government of India have 80,000 crores available, over the next one year? Because that's what @MoHFW_INDIA needs, to buy and distribute the vaccine to everyone in India. This is the next concerning challenge we need to tackle," Poonawalla tweeted.

The Pune-based pharma firm has partnered with five international pharmaceutical firms, including AstraZeneca and Novavax, to develop a Covid-19 vaccine and committed to producing one billion doses, of which it has pledged half to India.

His statemet gains significance as union health minister has said that a COVID-19 vaccine is likely to be available by early next year and the government is considering its emergency authorisation for high-risk settings.

Centre should not give too positive a spin on COVID-19 vaccine

He said while no date has been fixed for the launch of a vaccine, it may be ready by the first quarter of 2021, and made available first to those who need it the most, irrespective of their paying capacity,

The minister made these remarks during interaction with his social media followers on the 'Sunday Samvad' platform.

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