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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 13 June, 2021

  • 8 Min Read

India’s vaccination policy- Changes in vaccine policy for COVID-19

India’s vaccination policy- Changes in vaccine policy for COVID-19

Introduction

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 7 reversed the Central government’s decentralised policy for procurement of COVID-19 vaccines, declaring that from June 21, vaccines for everyone above the age of 18 years would be procured by the Central government and distributed free to the States.
  • This ended the month-old controversial system of States being asked to procure vaccines for the 18-44 years age group at prices announced by domestic manufacturers and import vaccines through open tenders.

Why was the policy reversed?

  • The Centre’s announcement came after the Supreme Court on May 31 held that the Union government’s policy of not providing free vaccines to those in the 18-44 years age bracket was prima facie “arbitrary and irrational”.
  • Under the latest policy, the Centre said it will procure up to 75% of the doses of vaccines from manufacturers and will provide them free of cost to the State governments.
  • Private institutions can procure the remaining 25% of doses.

What is the state of vaccine availability?

  • Data on availability from individual manufacturers and supplies to each State have not been published uniformly by the Centre.
  • Amid reports of severe shortages in many States and the vaccination drive being suspended for the 18-44 years age group in a number of places, the Centre said on June 9 that thus far, over 25 crore (25,06,41,440) vaccine doses had been provided to the States and Union Territories through the free distribution channel and direct procurement category.
  • The court recorded the position on May 31 as follows: the production at the Serum Institute of India (SII), which makes Covishield, is being raised from 5 crore doses a month to 6.5 crore doses by July 2021; Bharat Biotech, the maker of Covaxin, will raise capacity from 90 lakh to 2 crore doses per month, touching 5.5 crore doses per month by July; availability of Sputnik V will go up from 30 lakh doses to 1.2 crore doses a month by July.

How has the pricing of vaccines changed?

  • For vaccination of these priority sectors, the two vaccines were initially sold to the Centre at special prices — ?200 a dose for Covishield up to 100 million doses, and ?295 per dose for Covaxin, with free doses of it provided to the Centre effectively reducing the price to ?206.50 each.
  • When the second phase of vaccination was launched on March 1, the Centre capped the price for Covishield and Covaxin at private hospitals at ?250 per dose.
  • Under the decentralised distribution of vaccines from May 1, this cap was removed and manufacturers announced differential pricing for State governments and private hospitals.
  • However, these developments were soon rendered moot by a widespread shortage of vaccines, and governments largely provided vaccines only to the 60-plus and targeted 45-plus categories.
  • Now, having taken over the responsibility of free vaccination for all age groups from June 21, the Central government has announced new prices for private hospitals.
  • They can charge a maximum of ?150 per dose as service charge and a GST of 5%, and with these, the maximum price for a dose of Covishield would be ?780, for Covaxin it will be ?1,410 per dose, and Sputnik V would be available at ?1,145 a shot.

What is the situation in the States?

  • According to data compiled by The Hindu, as of June 12, 14.9% of the population had got at least one dose of a vaccine, and 3.4% had got both doses.
  • Many big States had fully vaccinated only a small segment of the population as of that date: 51.2 lakh in Maharashtra, 45.1 lakh in Gujarat, 29.8 lakh in Karnataka, 22.2 lakh in Kerala, and 26.1 lakh in Andhra Pradesh. Single-dose coverage in these States varied between 88.7 lakh (in Kerala) and 2 crore (in Maharashtra).
  • The shortage of doses prompted many States to announce a partial suspension of vaccinations, particularly for the 18-44 years age group, and in some cases, for first doses.

Source: TH


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