August 5, 2021

Indian state seeks 5 billion euros to finance anti-Covid-19 vaccination

The race against time is on in India on the Covid-19 vaccination front. After having corrected its vaccine strategy for the umpteenth time, on Monday, June 7, by recentralizing vaccine purchases instead of letting the federated states of the Indian Union obtain their own funds, the government of Narendra Modi placed an order for 440 million doses: 250 million Covishield, the AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured in India by the Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest producer, whose factories are in Pune (west), and 190 million Covaxin , the local formula developed by Bharat Biotech, a young company from Hyderabad (south).

The finance ministry faces an unprecedented budgetary headache. According to several government sources cited by the Indian press, the bill for the federal state could be between 450 billion and 500 billion rupees (or between 5 billion and 5.6 billion euros) over the whole year. However, in the 2021-2022 budget presented to Parliament at the beginning of February, the State had provided only an envelope of 3.9 billion euros. A sign that public finances are at their worst, only 14% of this amount has been disbursed to date.

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On Friday 11 June, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman called on all members of the government to tighten their belts and present her with measures before July “To reduce by 20% [leurs] Functionnary costs “. In an economic context aggravated by the violence of the second wave of Covid-19 which swept through the country in April and May, the government is buying vaccines in small quantities.

Delays in delivery

His last order was at the end of April, when he asked the two Indian manufacturers to provide 340 million doses before July. When the vaccine campaign kicked off on January 16, it had purchased only 16 million doses, while the country has 1.38 billion inhabitants.

So far, the total vaccine orders produced in India stand at 796 million doses. Enough, theoretically, for 398 million individuals. And even. The state is deadbeat and deliveries are so late that many vaccination centers continue to face severe shortages.

Unlike rich countries, which had taken the lead in ordering large quantities of vaccines in advance as early as 2020, India did not have the financial means to do so.

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