Express News Service
NEW DELHI: Despite a clear demand by at least two states recently to revise the Covid vaccine allocation between government and private channels from the existing 75:25 to 90:10, the Centre has made it clear that it’s not happening anytime soon.
Naveen Patnaik and MK Stalin, Chief Ministers of Odisha and Tamil Nadu, in their separate letters to the Centre over the past few days, had said that the Union government should take a further relook at the distribution of Covid vaccines in India.
While revising its earlier Covid vaccination policy, which came into effect on June 21, the Centre is now procuring and supplying 75% of the Covid vaccines being manufactured in India which is being administered for free to all adults in government facilities.
But 25% of vaccines continue to be up for supply by the private hospitals, as also was happening earlier as part of the Centre’s decentralised and liberalised vaccination policy.
Also, private hospitals have been permitted to charge Rs 150 per dose apart from the cost of the vaccine to the hospital.
In their letter, Patnaik and Stalin, however, contended that the share of participation of the private sector in their states has been rather poor.
In Odisha, while only about 4-5% of the vaccine administered have been in the private hospitals, this percentage is a little better — at 10% — in Tamil Nadu.
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In its review meetings, top authorities in the Union health ministry too have taken up the matter with several states—mainly Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Odisha, among others — saying that the participation of the private sector needs to grow.
In a press briefing on Covid status in the country on Tuesday, Lav Agarwal, joint secretary in the health ministry in response to a related question said that the vaccination policy has just been revised and while feedback from states is welcome, there was no plan on radar to incorporate further changes immediately.
“We keep discussing with states (vaccination policy) and if the need be we will always examine the suggestions but the new policy has come into effect from June 21 only and it has pushed up the average daily vaccinations remarkably which shows that it is working well,” he said.
So far, over 33 crore vaccine doses have been administered in India and while the CoWin dashboard by the government does not give a break up between doses provided in the government and private centres, it is understood that the private share may be less than 20%.
Incidentally, the suggestions by Tamil Nadu and Odisha come even as the Centre has been pushing the states to raise the private sector participation.
In a strategy paper issued on the new vaccination policy, the government had minced no words in indicating that the allotment of 25% of vaccines produced to private hospitals is aimed to incentivise manufacturers, by allowing them to sell a portion at a comparatively better price.