Tuesday, Jan 18, 2022
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India’s New Covid-19 Vaccine Policy Explained

India is all set to begin its third phase of vaccination drive from May 1, including everyone aged 18 and older. The fourth phase, however, will incorporate several changes in vaccine policy.

India’s New Covid-19 Vaccine Policy Explained
Covid explainer: From May 1, the vaccine supply will be divided into two baskets – 50 per cent for the Centre, and 50 per cent for the open market. -

India is all set to begin its third phase of vaccination drive from May 1, including everyone aged 18 and older. The fourth phase, however, will incorporate several changes in vaccine policy.

What are the changes in procurement?

The Centre during the first three phases procured the entire quantity of vaccines from the manufacturers, Serum Institute of India (Covishield) and Bharat Biotech (Covaxin), and distributed it to states. During the initial three phases, healthcare workers, frontline workers, and those above the age of 45 were vaccinated.

The stock was then distributed to government vaccination centres, which administered the vaccine free of cost, and to private hospitals that charged recipients Rs 250 per dose.

From May 1, the supply will be divided into two baskets – 50 per cent for the Centre, and 50 per cent for the open market. Through the second — non-Government of India — channel, state governments, private hospitals, and industries that have facilities to administer the vaccine, will be able to procure doses directly from manufacturers.

The following changes will be witnessed in distribution?

The 50 per cent basket of vaccine doses earmarked for states and private hospitals in the open market will be used to vaccinate those above the age of 18 years.

Free vaccination would be available at all vaccination centres that receive doses from the Government of India.

Will you be getting the vaccine at Rs 250 at private vaccination?

No. No vaccines will be provided to the private sector, private hospitals will have their own rates.

How much will it cost at a private centre?

The cost of a vaccine is expected to be more than in the first three phases as they will be procuring the vaccines at a higher price. During the initial three phases, out of the Rs 250 charged for vaccination, private hospitals received Rs 100 for administering the vaccine.

The Centre on Monday said the prices charged by private hospitals would be monitored. A mechanism will be put in place, and vaccine stocks and prices will be captured on the Co-win platform.

How will the Centre decide which state gets how many doses?

The Centre will allocate its 50 per cent share to states based on the number of active cases. Currently, states receive vaccine doses according to demand (number of registrations and walk-in vaccinations). Now, low wastage will be incentivised.

Will India be getting imported vaccines and would it be divided among the Centre, states, and private hospitals?

No. The Centre will allow the imported, fully ready-to-use vaccines to be entirely utilised in the other-than-Government of India channel. Thus, if and when a foreign pharma giant brings its vaccine to India, it will be free to directly sell the entire stock in the open market at a competitive price.

Who will be prioritised?

The Centre said that the second dose of all existing priority groups, “wherever it has become due, would be given priority, for which a specific and focused strategy would be communicated to all stakeholders”.

On what basis will vaccine makers decide whom to sell to — and at what price?

There are not many details available regarding the same. The Centre has only said that private vaccination providers shall transparently declare self-set vaccination prices. States have not been given the liberty to negotiate prices.

Serum Institute of India (SII) on Wednesday announced the prices for its vaccine — Rs 400 per dose to states, and Rs 600 per dose to hospitals. Bharat Biotech and Dr Reddy’s (which will distribute the Russian Sputnik V shot) have not made an announcement yet.

 “We want to sell to the private hospitals, which will take care of all of these states and corporates. I don’t know why there is such a hullabaloo about every state complaining about this price because, look, it’s their option, it’s not their compulsion,” SII CEO Adar Poonawalla said in an interview to CNBC TV-18 on Wednesday.

Once an estimated 600 million new recipients become eligible on May 1, when and from where will the required stocks of vaccines be procured?

Some 130 million vaccines have been administered in India so far, and over 111 million people are yet to receive their second dose. Depending on how many people in the priority groups are still left to receive their second shot by the time May 1 comes around, the country could need over 1.2 billion doses of vaccines. Given the country’s current production capacity and the delay in bringing in foreign vaccines, supply will almost certainly fall short of demand.

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