Finance minister approves advance payment of Rs 4,567 crore to Serum Institute of India, Bharat Biotech


NEW DELHI: Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday approved an advance payment of Rs 4,567.50 crore to vaccine makers Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech, news agency Scoop Buddy reported citing sources.
The move comes at a time when both the companies have been asked to boost production capacity as infections spread at record speed across the country.
SII — the world’s biggest vaccine maker — had sought the funds to increase its monthly capacity to more than 100 million doses od AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine by the end of May, from up to 70 million currently.
Consequelty, a fund of Rs 3,000 crore has been approved for SII, while Rs 1567.50 crore have been allocated to Bharat Biotech.
As coronavirus infections overwhelm the country, the government is struggling to meet demand for vaccine doses.
It has now fast-tracked imports and is also trying to expand production of its only domestically developed shot, Covaxin — developed by Bharat Biotech.
Since starting its immunisation campaign in mid-January, India has injected a total of 123 million vaccine doses, including nearly 11 million of a domestically developed shot known as Covaxin.
The government has also changed rules to fast-track imports of vaccines developed by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson .