The Central government has fixed COVID-19 vaccine prices for private hospitals and they can only charge up to ₹780 for administering Covishield, ₹1,410 for administering Covaxin, and ₹1,145 for administering Sputnik V, once its available.
This move came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the Centre would take the responsibility of procuring vaccines for the various State and UT governments, too. This would amount to the government placing orders for close to 75 per cent of the total doses. He also shared that the private hospitals were free to purchase the remaining doses but could only charge ₹150 as service charge for doing the same.
Beginning June 21, the process of vaccine procurement and distribution for state governments will be centralised. States will be allocated doses on criteria such as population, disease burden and the progress of vaccination. If any of the states are reporting high wastage, that will affect their allocation negatively, said the government.
The Centre has placed orders for an additional 25 crore doses of Covishield and 19 crore doses of Covaxin. The Centre has also pre-ordered 30 crore doses from Biological-E. This vaccine is currently in the third stage of clinical trials.
Currently, India has administered close to 23.9 crore people. Over 19 crore people have received the first shot while the remaining 4.9 crore have been fully vaccinated. The Ministry of Health has been urging states to ramp up their delivery of second doses.
Role Of Private Hospitals
While the Centre has placed orders for distribution to various States and Union Territories, private hospitals can continue to place orders with the vaccine manufacturers to purchase COVID-19 vaccine doses that they can administer to people who are willing to pay for the vaccine.
Both Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech are charging more from private hospitals than what they were charging the governments. Due to this differential pricing, private hospitals pay ₹600 to SII and ₹1200 to Bharat Biotech for the vaccines. According to the prices decided by the Centre, private hospitals can a make a profit of ₹180 on each dose of Covishield, and ₹210 on each shot of Covaxin.
Sputnik V capped at ₹1,145 is being manufactured by Dr. Reddy's Laboratory. The vaccine manufacturers are yet to start its distribution. The price at which the government will procure Sputnik has not been declared. yet.
Change In Vaccination Policy
PM Modi announced that the decentralised vaccination procurement policy that is effective from May 1, 2021 will be reversed to centralisation from June 21, 2021.
This comes after the Supreme Court reprimanded the Centre and called the policy as 'irrational and arbitrary'. However, Dr. VK Paul disagreed that only the Supreme Court's observations were the reason behind modifying the policy. In the weekly Ministry press conference on COVID-19, Paul suggested that a team was monitoring the policy since it was initiated, and it was thanks to their feedback that the policy reversal was going to be undertaken.