The center will buy 75 percent of all vaccines produced in the country and deliver them free of charge to states, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in an address to the nation on Monday.
Modi said that from June 21, the government will provide free vaccines for everyone over the age of 18. “No state government will spend anything on vaccines. “So far, billions of people have received free vaccines, and now an 18-year-old and larger segment will be added to that,” he said.
Modi did not miss the opportunity to point out that the initial decision of the policy of liberalized procurement of vaccines was based on the requirements of the states.
The new policy will be introduced in two weeks, he said, adding that the Center and states will work on new guidelines.
“The 25 percent system of vaccines procured directly by private hospitals will continue. “State governments will monitor that private hospitals charge only 150 JPY service fees over the decided price of vaccines,” he said.
Vaccine companies can lose
According to observers, for vaccine manufacturers, such centralized procurement would mean a loss of revenue because the Centre’s purchase price is lower than the rate at which states were supposed to receive vaccines. For example, the price of the Serum Institute was 150 per per dose, while states should receive it at ₹ 300. The selling price of Bharat Biotech to states was 400 ₹ / dose. But the real thing will be revealed, industry observers say, when the Center procures from Pfizer or Moderna or imports the Russian Sputnik V vaccine. “It remains to be seen at what price it will negotiate with foreign companies and whether it will be more than what the government allows Indian companies to charge, ”the observer said.
PM guilty of delay
Reacting to the government’s change of attitude, opposition parties said the prime minister should be responsible for delays in vaccinations. Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said the prime minister had inflicted a huge cost on the people by delaying accepting opposition demands for centralized procurement and free stabs for children ages 18 to 44.
CPI (M) Secretary General Sitaram Yechury said ongoing attempts to blame opposition-run states are unacceptable when decision-making remains centralized in the PMO.
But the announcement was welcomed by other sections as well. “This sets the stage for a centralized vaccination program and clears up the impact of different vaccine prices that have been under intense public debate. The government has also left enough room for private players to play their part in the ‘national mission’, ”said Gurpreet Sandhu, president of the Health and Pharmacy Council.
“We have to cover a lot of the population in the short term. The government needs to bring in private health professionals and keep financial feasibility in mind, ”said Shankar Narang, chief executive, of Paras Healthcare.
“Unfortunately, the service fee ceiling of JPY 150 will not cover the additional costs of field vaccination camps, additional staff and doctors …,” Fortis Healthcare said in a statement.
As for the nasal vaccine, Nikkhil K Masurkar, CEO, ENTOD Pharmaceutical, said “… this will reduce the virus load in the body … nasal vaccines are cost-effective and effective compared to intravenous vaccines.
Garib Kalyan Yojana
Although the address focused on the vaccination strategy, the prime minister also said that Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana had been extended to Diwali.