‘No reason why states must complain now’: Harsh Vardhan’s clarification on Phase 3 Covid-19 vaccination
- Harsh Vardhan clarified, “The Centre will continue giving vaccine doses from its 50% quota to the states and UTS for free."
Union health minister Harsh Vardhan on Sunday called out ‘politics’ over the third phase of India’s Covid-19 vaccination drive which will start from May 1 and issued a clarification regarding the campaign, saying “we need a greater degree of shared idealism.” Addressing the concerns regarding the price of vaccines in the third phase of the immunisation programme, Harsh Vardhan said, “While the dreaded disease is spreading like a tsunami, it was critical to ease the controls and allow a free hand to the state governments as well as the private sector. Hence, under the able guidance of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, we decided to ease the vaccination policy norms.”
His statement comes against the backdrop of the prices of vaccines notified by Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech at which they will sell the jabs to states and private hospitals. In this phase, the government has allowed all citizens above the age of 18 years to get vaccinated. While the vaccine manufacturers would supply 50% of their monthly Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL) released doses to the government, which the Centre will provide to people for free, and would be free to supply the remaining 50% doses to state governments and in the open market, according to a health ministry statement.
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The Serum Institute of India has set the price of its vaccine Covishield at ₹400 per dose for states and ₹600 for private hospitals. Bharat Biotech, on the other hand, said it would charge ₹600 per dose from states and ₹1200 from private hospitals for Covaxin.
Harsh Vardhan clarified, “The Centre will continue giving vaccine doses from its 50% quota to the states and UTS for free. These vaccines shall continue to be administered by States and Union Territories...balance 50 per cent quota grants flexibility for states. Many states had requested that the vaccination process be opened up for them. Now, this balance 50% quota shall give them the freedom to vaccinate groups that they deem as priority.”
The balance 50% quota is also open for the corporate and private sector to pool in their resources so that the combined effort of Team India can be deployed to vaccinate every adult in the earliest possible time, he added.
On concerns flagged by several state governments, Harsh Vardhan said, “I see no reason why the states must complain now. They were demanding the removal of restrictions on vaccine supplies to them. Under the new policy, they have the liberty to directly procure from the manufacturers and even negotiate prices based on volumes. This will also cut the delays. I empathise with the states because they are leading this battle from the front and need fast replenishment of vaccine stocks. They need to decide when, how, how much and to whom. This is exactly what the Centre has done by easing the process.”
Amid criticism by some political parties, the health minister appealed to them to put the success of the vaccination program above everything else, so that people’s lives can be saved.