NEW DELHI: Facing criticism for its new Covid-19 vaccination policy, the Centre on Sunday sought to explain that the new liberalised policy is aimed to accelerate phase 3 of the inoculation drive and offers flexibility to states, which had been asking for the same.
Explaining the Centre’s latest policy, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan said that 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 guidance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, we decided to ease the vaccination policy norms,” he wrote in a two page open letter that was posted on Twitter.
Under the new policy, the Centre had said that while it will procure 50 % of Covishield and Covaxin supplies at Rs 150 per dose which will then be distributed to states to vaccinate those above 45 for free, states and private hospitals have been allowed to procure 50 % of the quota on their own as vaccination opens for all above 18 years from May 1.
Following the shift in the policy, Serum Institute of India, manufacturer of Covishield has said that its cost for states will be Rs 400 per dose and Rs 600 per shot for private hospitals. Covaxin by Bharat Biotech, on the other hand, can be procured by states and private hospitals channels at Rs 600 and Rs 1200 per dose respectively.
Vardhan, meanwhile complained about the “misinformation” and added that just like before, the Centre will continue to give vaccine doses from its 50 % quota to the states for free.
Seeking to clear doubts on the “balance 50 % quota”, Vardhan explained that it grants flexibility to states.
“Many states had requested that the vaccination process be opened up for them. Now, this ‘balance 50 percent quota’ shall give them the freedom to vaccinate groups that they deem as priority… After we received requests from nearly all states to liberalise the vaccine distribution policy and pass on the control to the states, we decided to go ahead,” he said.
“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,” his letter said.