On Wednesday, the Serum Institute of India (SII) , in a press statement, said that in the next two months they plan to incentivise the production of vaccines to deal with it's current limited capacity. From May 1, 50% of the vaccine output is earmarked for the Central Government hospitals and the remaining 50% for the state government hospitals and private hospitals.
Till April 30, 100% of the vaccines produced are reserved for the Centre which will route them to its own vaccination centres, state government hospitals and private hospitals.
There are two different prices for Covishield: Rs 400 per dose for the State Government hospitals and Rs 600 per dose for private hospitals. Initially, the Serum Institute had said the Central Government will be charged Rs 150 per dose which caused some backlash from State Government officials.
There was a debate about fair distribution of vaccine doses between different states and between government and private hospitals. Many believed that setting different prices for central and state governments went against the principle of cooperative federalism.
However, the CEO, Adar Poonawalla later announced that there will be no discrepancy between central and state governments, as per a report by PTI. Both of them will be receiving the vaccine at Rs 400 per dose.
From May 1, manufacturers can sell vaccines directly to state governments and private hospitals at a price they choose to set. The Centre has not set any cap on what the new price of the vaccine will be, but it is unlikely that the previous cap of Rs 250 will remain.
People who are above 45 years were eligible for the vaccine and could receive it for free at a government hospital. The same was available at a private hospital for Rs 250. This included Rs 150 (price of the dose) and Rs 100 (administration fee of the hospital).
However, the prices of the vaccine dose will now include the cost set by the manufacturer + the administration fee of the hospital + any other tax like GST or transportation fee which can be included in the final price. This means that there won't be any universal price for vaccine doses and will depend on the manufacturer, hospital and region.
Vaccination will still remain free at the central government vaccination centres for healthcare workers, frontline workers and people aged above 45.
The Central Government has said that they will allocate vaccines from the 50% reserved for them to states and union territories, in case they fall short of doses or aren't able to obtain the required amount.
Anyone above the age of 18 will be eligible for vaccination from May 1, according to the Centre.
For people aged 18-45 who wish to get vaccinated, the price for a dose at a government hospital will be Rs 400 + administration fees + other charges. At a private hospital the price will be Rs 600 + administration fees + other charges.
There will not be any fixed charge for vaccines, but the Centre will provide some clarification on it.
A lot of people have been hit economically by the pandemic, and increasing the price of the vaccine will prevent a lot of people from getting vaccinated. Most countries provide vaccines to their citizens free of cost.
This article has been written by Sherwyn Fernandes for The Paradigm
See you next time…