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COVID-19: India fastest globally to administer 17 cr vaccine doses

By TIOL News Service

NEW DELHI, MAY 10, 2021: INDIA is the fastest country in the world to administer 17 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses, the Health Ministry said on Monday. China took 119 days while the US took 115 days for reaching the same landmark, while India took 114 days.

The country rolled out its nationwide vaccination drive on January 16, opening it for healthcare and frontline workers before expanding it to all over the age of 18.

A total of 17,01,76,603 vaccine doses have been administered as on Monday morning.

Moreover, the government has provided nearly 18 crore vaccine doses to States and Union Territories (UTs) free of cost. Of the 17,93,57,860 vaccines supplied by the Centre, the total consumption, including wastage is 16,89,27,797 doses.

The Finance Ministry also rebutted media reports and said that it is "factually incorrect" to claim that there is no provision for expenditure on coronavirus vaccination by the Central government.

The ministry clarified that an amount of Rs. 35,000 crore has been shown under the Demand for Grants No. 40, titled ‘Transfers to States’ and vaccines have been and are being procured by and paid for by the Centre through this head of account.

"The amount provided under this head for vaccinations is actually operated by the Ministry of Health. Vaccines are passed on to the States as grants in kind and the actual administration of vaccines is being done by States," it added.

The use of this Demand for Grants has advantages since expenditure on vaccine is a one-off cost outside the normal Centrally sponsored schemes of the Health Ministry, separate funding ensures easy monitoring and management of these funds.

Also, the grant is exempted from the quarterly expenditure control restrictions applicable to other demands. This helps to ensure that there is no hindrance in the vaccination programme.

Further, there is enough administrative flexibility to change the nature of the scheme between grants in kind and other forms of grants.