No response yet from COVID vaccine manufacturers: Maharashtra minister

Availability of the vaccine is a big question; if we don’t get vaccines, how will we start vaccination from May 1? says minister

Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope said the state plans to float a global tender to procure vaccines.

Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope has said domestic manufacturers – Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech – have not yet responded to the state’s query for supply of 12 crore COVID vaccine doses.

According to the main elements of the ‘Liberalised Pricing and Accelerated National COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy’ that would come into effect from May 1, vaccine manufacturers would supply 50 per cent of their monthly supply of doses released by the Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL) to the Centre and would be free to supply remaining 50 per cent to state governments and other government of India channels.

Manufacturers must in a transparent manner make an advance declaration of the price for the other 50 per cent supply before May 1.

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Based on this price, states, private hospitals, industrial establishments through their hospitals may procure vaccine doses from the manufacturers. Private hospitals would have to procure their supplies of COVID vaccines exclusively from the 50 per cent supply earmarked for “other than government of India channel”. The government will monitor price charged for vaccination by private hospitals.

“Availability of the vaccine is a big question; we can spend, but there are limited manufacturers who can supply,” Tope said on Tuesday (April 27). He said people must pre-register and schedule appointments for vaccination rather than walk in with their requests.

Also read: As SII reveals price of vaccine, states, private hospitals mull over costs

Tope said Maharashtra plans to float a global tender to procure vaccines. The minister said the health department has submitted a proposal giving various options for vaccination, including free vaccination, import of vaccine doses, and whether people who can afford it should be asked to pay.

“But if we don’t get vaccines, how will we start vaccination from May 1?” Tope asked, adding, “this is not just our situation, this is a situation every state in India is facing.”

Maharashtra has over 5 crore people in the age group of 18-44 years and for two-dose vaccination plus wastage being taken into account, it will need 12 crore doses.

Also read: States fight back on differential pricing for vaccines, say Centre passing buck

Tope said his state has urged the Centre to intervene if the state is unable to procure the required stock due to shortage. “We also urge the Centre to fix prices of vaccines in the private sector,” he said. “SII has told us that till May 20 their stock is blocked by the Central government. They cannot supply before that,” Tope added.

Maharashtra, the minister said, has 2 per cent vaccine wastage. “Yesterday (On April 26), we did 5.24 lakh inoculations. The Centre should handhold us where required.”

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