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India’s Revised Covid-19 Vaccination Policy

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June 09, 2021

Why in news?

Indian Prime Minster recently announced the shift to centralised procurement of Covid-19 vaccines.

How was it earlier?

  • From January 16 to April 30, 2021, the Centre had procured and allocated vaccine doses to the states.
  • This was available for free vaccination of three priority groups.
  • These were healthcare workers, frontline workers, and persons above the age of 45.
  • From May 2021, States were allowed to procure 25% of the vaccines manufactured and the Centre, 50%.
  • [States had to procure 25% of the doses from the open market to vaccinate the 18-44 year age group.]

What is the new policy?

  • Procurement - From June 21, 2021, the Centre will be directly procuring 75% of the doses manufactured.
  • It will distribute this among the states.
  • Vaccines will continue to be free for all those who choose to get their shot at government centres.
  • Private centres - Private hospitals will have exclusive access to the remaining 25%.
  • However, private centres can charge only Rs 150 as service charge over and above the vaccine price.
  • The maximum vaccine price is Rs 780 for Covishield, Rs 1,410 for Covaxin and Rs 1,145 for Sputnik V.
  • Distribution - The vaccines will be allocated to the states based on three positive metrics.
  • These are population, disease burden and the progress of vaccination.
  • One negative metric will be the wastage of vaccines.
  • A state reporting good vaccination coverage will get a higher number of doses.
  • On the other hand, a state recording a higher wastage will receive a lower number.

Why is the course correction now?

  • The Supreme Court had termed the earlier vaccine policy “irrational and arbitrary”.
  • Several states had faced difficulties in procuring and managing the funding of vaccines.
  • The Centre saw itself desperately short of supply right in the middle of India’s deadly second wave.
  • The hospital emergencies worsened the Centre’s panic.
  • So it has taken up the responsibility of directly buying vaccines to States.
  • The course correction in vaccine policy should help improve India’s response to the pandemic.

 

Source: The Hindu, The Indian Express

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