Private hospitals in Noida stare at loss as vaccine prices capped
The Centre’s move to cap prices of administering vaccine has come as a blow to private hospitals in Gautam Budh Nagar that would have to incur a heavy loss. Despite this, many said they would continue with the vaccination drive.
On Tuesday, the Centre said it would procure 75% of the vaccine manufacturer’s stock and distribute it free to all states from June 21.
Private hospitals, meanwhile, could access only the remaining stock from the manufactures, and had to cap the price of Covishield at ₹780, Covaxin at ₹1,410 and Sputnik V at ₹1,145 per dose immediately.
Private hospitals in Gautam Budh Nagar, which have been conducting vaccinations on their premises and even off-site, say that the landing cost of the vaccine (from procurement from vaccine makers to vaccination) was around ₹750-800 for Covishield and around ₹1,450 for Covaxin, while Sputnik V is yet to be deployed in the city.
Felix Hospital in Sector 137 had been administering Covishield for ₹900. It has also been holding a 24/7 vaccination drive.
Dr DK Gupta, chairman and managing director of Felix Hospital in Sector 137, said, “There are miscellaneous charges attached to the cost of the vaccine, including transportation, cold chain storage, deploying staff, ensuring disposables like gloves, syringes, and emergency care equipment that has to be kept on standby in case of adverse effects.(The new rate will mean) we will have to incur 10% loss.”
“From June 21, we will have to apply on a central government portal that will be regulated by the state government. We will apply for vaccines as per our earlier plans but not sure how much we will be able to get from the manufacturers, as per the new policy,” said Dr Gupta.
According to the central government order, the portal will help smaller and remoter private hospitals to obtain timely supply of vaccines.
Two big private hospitals of the district, Max and Fortis, refused to comment on the issue.
Sharda Hospital has been conducting 24/7 vaccination camps too and charged ₹850 for a dose of Covishield. At off-site vaccination sites, the charges were the same.
Dr Ajeet Kumar, public relations officer from Sharda Hospital in Greater Noida, said, Private hospitals have also tied up with corporate offices and residential societies in the city. In such camps, we send our staff and equipment, and all that will cost more.”
On whether the hospital will break their tie-ups with residential societies, he said, “We will continue to honour our commitments.”
Dr Sunil Balyan, chief medical superintendent at Bisrakh’s Yatharth Hospital, said they will update their prices. The hospital was administering Covaxin for ₹1,460 earlier.
“The hospital was procuring Covaxin from manufacturer at ₹1260. Including logistic and human resource cost, each dose had cost us ₹1,450. So, we were already working on a ‘no-profit-no loss’ model. Now we will have to incur a ₹50 loss. We have tie-ups with some residential societies in the area and we will update the cost of vaccination as per government guidelines.”
Dr NK Sharma, president of the Indian Medical Association (Noida) said, “We need to think of the larger good. Capping price is in favour of those who were unable to access to free government vaccination centres.”
GB Nagar Chief Medical Officer Dr Deepak Ohri said, “The district health department will monitor the prices charged by private hospitals as per guidelines from the government.”
Going forward, Sharda Hospital, Felix Hospital and Yatharth Hospital said that they will continue to procure vaccines as per their earlier plan.
“However, starting June 21, we will have to apply on a government portal that will aggregate demand of vaccines from all private hospitals and specify quota for each one keeping in mind equitable distribution. We will apply for vaccines as per our earlier plans but not sure how much we will be able to get from the manufacturers, as per the new policy,” said Dr Gupta.