Tribune News Service
New Delhi, April 19
India has decided to open COVID vaccinations for all adults starting May 1 with the pandemic surging to record highs and fatalities rising with each passing day.
The decision was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who said India had been vaccinating people at a world-record pace and would continue to do so with greater momentum.
In other major decisions, vaccine makers will need to reserve 50 per cent doses for the Centre and be free to give the rest to states or the open market. All imported vaccines will be available for the open market and will not be reserved by the Centre.
The expansion of the COVID inoculation drive was being demanded from all quarters ever since the drive began on January 16 with health and frontline workers being vaccinated along with 60 plus and 45- to 59-year-olds with morbidities. In the second phase from March 1, vaccination was opened for above 45 years, accounting for more than 80 per cent COVID mortality in the country.
The private sector was also roped in to augment capacity.
As the drive is set to be expanded, the government said it was regularly in touch with all vaccine manufacturers and has sent multiple inter-ministerial teams onsite to understand each one’s requirements and provide proactive and customised support in the form of grants, advance payments, more sites for production to ramp up manufacturing.
The Centre said it would support Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute to expand capacity.
The Liberalised and Accelerated Phase 3 Strategy of the National COVID-19 Vaccination programme decided today has several hallmarks, the top being that from May 1, vaccine manufacturers would supply 50 per cent of their monthly Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL) released doses to the Centre and the rest to states and in the open market.
Manufacturers would transparently make an advance declaration of the price for 50 per cent supply that would be available to states and in open market before May 1.
Based on this price, states, private hospitals, industrial establishments would be able to procure vaccine doses from the manufacturers.
Private Hospitals would have to procure their supplies of COVID-19 vaccine exclusively from the 50 per cent supply earmarked for the open market.
Private Vaccination providers will have to transparently declare self-set vaccination price.
The eligibility through this channel would be opened up to all adults—that is, everyone over 18.
Vaccination will continue as before in the Centre’s vaccination centres, provided free of cost to the eligible population as defined—health workers, frontline workers and all people above 45 years of age.
All vaccination (through government of India and open market channel) would be part of the National Vaccination Programme and will have to follow protocols such as being captured on CoWIN platform, linked to AEFI reporting and all other prescribed norms.
Stocks and price per vaccination applicable in all vaccination centres will also have to be reported real-time.
The division of vaccine supply 50 per cent to the Centre and 50 per cent to other-than-Centre channel would be applicable uniformly across for all vaccines manufactured in the country. However, Government of India will allow the imported fully ready-to-use vaccines to be entirely utilised in the other-than-government of India-channel.
The Government of India, from its share, will allocate vaccines to states and UTs based on the criteria of extent of infection (number of active COVID cases) performance (speed of administration).
Wastage of vaccine will also be considered in this criterion and will affect the criteria negatively.
Based on the above criteria, statewise quota would be decided and communicated to the States adequately in advance.
Here are the important decisions that were taken at the meeting:
—Liberalised and Accelerated Phase 3 Strategy of Covid-19 Vaccination from May 1.
—Pricing, Procurement, Eligibility and Administration of vaccines being made flexible in Phase 3 of the World’s Largest Vaccination drive
—All stakeholders given flexibility to customise to local needs
—Vaccine manufacturers incentivised to further scale up their production, as well as attract new national and international players
—Vaccine manufacturers empowered to release up to 50% of their supply to state governments and in the open market at a pre-declared price
—States empowered to procure additional vaccine doses directly from the manufacturers, as well as open up vaccination to any category of people above the age of 18 for the same
—Government of India’s vaccination drive to continue as before, providing free vaccination for essential and priority populations as defined earlier i.e HCWs, FLWs, and population above 45 years
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