Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday urged vaccine manufacturers to continuously scale up their production capacity to inoculate all Indians in the shortest possible time.
Interacting with vaccine manufacturers from across the country via video conferencing, Modi said the private sector will play an even more active role in the vaccination drive in the coming days and that this will require better coordination between hospitals and industry.
He also assured all possible support and smooth approval process for the vaccine candidates which are currently under trial phase. The health infrastructure of our private sector has played a big role in the country's fight against COVID-19, he said.
According to a statement from the PMO, Modi noted that the government has now allowed the vaccination for every adult starting from May 1 as it believes in the manufacturers' ability of vaccine makers.
The prime minister credited the manufacturers for developing and producing vaccines in a record time and noted that the vaccines developed are the cheapest, with India undertaking the world's largest inoculation programme.
"The government ensured that all the vaccine manufacturers not only get all possible help and logistic support, but also the process of vaccine approval is speedy and scientific," Modi said.
The vaccine manufacturers thanked him for the government's decision of allowing vaccination for everyone above the age of 18 and various steps taken to give more incentives and flexibility, the statement said.
Meanwhile, the government has approved a payment of about Rs 4,500 crore as advance to vaccine makers like Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech against future supplies, sources said.
SII will supply 200 million doses and Bharat Biotech is to supply another 90 million doses to the government by July at a pre-agreed rate of Rs 150 per dose.
Sources said the finance ministry has relaxed rules to allow advance payment without bank guarantee to help the vaccine makers ramp up production.
SII will get Rs 3,000 crore in advance and Bharat Biotech about Rs 1,500 crore.
Earlier this month, SII CEO Adar Poonawalla had said that the company would require around Rs 3,000 crore to ramp up production capacity for making vaccines for COVID-19.
The decision to provide credit line was hailed by SII.