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'Get well soon' outlay: Health care gets best-ever shot
in Budget 2021
Allocation jumps 118% over RE to Rs 2.23 trillion; Rs 35,000 cr earmarked for Covid vaccination
Health care, the foremost agendum of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitha raman’s Budget speech, saw an allocation of
Rs 223,846 crore —an increase of around 118 per cent over the Revised Estimate — to cover “health and
wellbeing” with a large chunk, Rs 35,000 crore, going tow ards Covid-19 vaccination, a move widely cheered by the
“The investment in health infrastructure in this Budget has increased substantially. Progressively, as institutions
absorb more, we shall commit more,” the finance minister said.
Adar Poonawalla of Serum Institute of India, the maker of Covishield vaccine, said the allocation would not be able
to cover the entire population. “However, it can cover vulnerable sections of the population at least.”
The increase in allocation pegged at 137 per cent by the finance minister was calculated over the Budget Estimate
of 2020-21. Much of the increase in this year’s allocation for health and wellbeing is largely attributed to
expenditure set aside for Covid vaccination and the finance commission grants for water, sanitation and health,
and overall allocation to drinking water and sanitation.
Pankaj Patel, chairman, Zydus Cadila, which is one of the front-runners in the vaccine race, said the allocation for
vaccines has given an environment of certainty.
If the cost per dose of vaccine is estimated to be around Rs 250, the government cannot cover more than 200
million people, another vaccine maker said. “This has probably been done keeping in mind the low turnout for the
national vaccination programme.”