Covid-19 vaccination drive

New Delhi, Feb 2: The PM-CARES Fund, which has been set up to provide relief during the coronavirus pandemic, has contributed over Rs 2,200 crore for the first phase of vaccination drive, which is looking to inoculate frontline healthcare workers, the Expenditure Secretary said today.

Set up in March 2020, the exact collections made by the fund through voluntary contribution by individuals and corporates, are not known but the corpus managed by the PMO has been providing relief to pandemic-hit sectors.

With the Budget for the current fiscal, which was presented before the onset of the pandemic, making no separate allocation for vaccination, more than 82 per cent of the cost of the same during January to March is being borne by the PM-CARES Fund.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Budget for the next fiscal beginning April 2021 has set aside Rs 35,000 crore towards COVID vaccination.
In an interview with PTI, Expenditure Secretary TV Somanathan said the cost of vaccination of frontline and healthcare workers in the current fiscal is being borne fully by the Central government and the money is coming from PM-CARES Fund and Health Ministry.

“For January-March the (vaccination) cost is expected to be about Rs 2,700 crore approximately. Part of it is coming from the Health Ministry and some part of it is funded from the PM-CARES Fund. This is for the first round of 3 crore frontline and health workers,” he said.

The entire cost of this round will be borne by the Central government, he said.
“We had provided extra funds to the Health Ministry for incidental costs to vaccination. We made an additional allocation of Rs 480 crore just for the 3-crore batch of vaccination,” he said.

The remaining about Rs 2,220 crore will come from PM-CARES Fund.
“Yes, that is my information,” he said when asked if the remainder of the Rs 2,700 crore cost of the vaccination drive, after accounting for Rs 480 crore from the Health Ministry, will come from the PM-CARES Fund.

Somanathan said the recommendations of the Finance Commission in the area of health relating to local body grants have been accepted in full.

“Whatever the Commission has recommended in the area of local body grants for health, water and sanitation are being accepted in full and will be implemented. We have also made the necessary Budget provisions for those grants,” he added. – PTI