NEW DELHI: In a major shift in the vaccination policy, the Indian central government has now taken full responsibility and decided to procure 75 percent of the stocks from manufacturers and supply it for free to states to vaccinate those above 18 years from June 21.
The arrangement that had begun from May 1, in which 25 percent was procured by states from vaccine makers, will no longer be in place. The Centre will do it on behalf of the states and supply it to them for free.In his address to the nation on Monday, Modi also announced that from June 21, all citizens above the age of 18 years will get free vaccines. The Prime Minister also assured the nation that supply of vaccines will increase in the coming days. “Work on producing an intranasal vaccine for Covid is also happening,” he said.
The Prime Minister’s address to the nation comes on a day India reported 1,00,636 new Covid-19 cases and 2,427 deaths, the lowest in 61 days. Part of it has to do with low testing on Sunday. Only 15.87 lakh samples were tested on Sunday, compared to an average of more than 20 lakh in the last week.
He also said that vaccine supply will be increased significantly in the country in the coming days.
Modi said that private hospitals can continue to procure 25 percent of vaccines, but their service charge would be capped at Rs 150 per dose.
He also announced continuation of free ration scheme for over 80 crore people in the country till November. “This scheme will benefit over 80 crore people,” he added.
Modi did not mention the name of vaccines but said that whatever vaccines are produced in the country and bought from foreign countries will be given for the citizens. It will be Covaxin, Covieshield, Sputnik, Pfizer etc. Till now, 23 crores of people have been vaccinated.“The Centre is taking back total control of vaccination now, will be implemented in next two weeks. The Centre will give free vaccines to states for all above 18 years. From June 21, the Centre will provide free vaccines to states,” PM Modi announced in an address to the nation.
This means those who want to pay can go to private hospitals, who can still buy 25 percent of the doses directly from manufacturers.
“75 percent of vaccination will be free and under the Centre, 25 percent will be paid and by private hospitals,” he said.
The Prime Minister also put out an emphatic defence of his government’s vaccination policy, tackling criticism by states and opposition parties over the past several weeks amid a shortage of vaccines.
It was states that wanted decentralisation, he said, and that is why they were given 25 percent vaccination responsibility.
“In 2014, India had 60 percent vaccine coverage, we managed to take it past 90 percent during our term,” PM Modi said.
He said India’s fight against the second wave of the coronavirus was on. “Against an unseen, shapeshifting enemy, our biggest weapon is maintaining Covid protocol like masks and distancing. Vaccines are our safety armour,” he said.
However, he said, compared to the demand, the production is only limited.
“If we did not have a made-in-India vaccine, can you imagine what would have happened in a country like India,” he said. He pointed out that earlier, India would take decades to get vaccines from abroad. “The speed at which it was going, it would take 40 years for 100 percent coverage,” he said.