will new vaccine policy do some magic?

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will new vaccine policy do some magic?

Author: Vivek Singh
From June 21, the new vaccination policy will be implemented in the country, in which 94 crore people above the age of 18 years will be given free vaccines. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced this policy on 7 June. According to this, the central government will buy 75% of the vaccines from vaccine companies, while 25% of the vaccines can be bought by private hospitals directly from these companies. Private hospitals can charge a service charge of up to Rs 150 in addition to the cost of the vaccine. The responsibility of monitoring the prices in private hospitals has been given to the state governments.

Policy changed in one and a half months
According to an estimate, the number of people above 18 years of age in the country is 94 crores. For these, 188 crore vaccines will be required. The Center had changed the vaccination policy from May 2021, under which the state governments had to make their own arrangements for 25% of the vaccines for people above the age of 18 years. States faced many problems in this. Vaccines were not received even after giving global tenders to many states. After this, the states put pressure on the Center to give vaccines. The Supreme Court raised questions on the vaccine policy of the Center. In the end, the Center accepted his point, which was announced by the Prime Minister on 7 June.

Special vaccination drive in Hyderabad (Photo: AP)

Now the question arises that why did the Center change the old vaccination policy within a month and a half? What was the need to include people above 18 years of age in vaccination when the Center knew that there were not enough vaccines available by the end of July? People in the age group of 35 to 44 years could be included in it. The question also arises on why the decision was taken in such a hurry. Suddenly the states were asked to buy 25% of the vaccines, when there were not enough vaccines available.

According to the government, 54 crore vaccines will be available by July 31. So far 23 crore vaccines have been administered. In the next 53 days, 31 crore new vaccines will be available with the Center. During this period the vaccination campaign of people of age 18+ can be carried out. Because of this also the new policy is being implemented from June 21.

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The country would require 134 crore vaccine doses to vaccinate all people above 18 years of age in 153 days between August and December. About 88 lakh vaccines will be required daily. Between August and December, 500 crore vaccines of Kovishield, 38 crores of Covaccine, 30 crores of Biological E, 20 crores of Novavax, 10 crores of Sputnik V, 5 crores of Jaykov D (total 153 crore vaccines) can be given to the government. In this sense the supply of vaccines exceeds its demand. It should not be forgotten that some percentage of this will also result in wastage of vaccines.

Keeping in view such large scale vaccination, the Center had allocated Rs 35,000 crore in the budget. So far, out of this Rs 4,000 crore has been spent, the remaining Rs 31,000 crore can be used for this. In case of increase in demand and prices of vaccines, the Center may increase the amount allocated for vaccination to Rs 45,000-50,000 crore. At present, 75% of the 188 crore vaccines i.e. 141 crore vaccines will have to be paid to the Center at the rate of Rs 150 per vaccine. For this, about Rs 25,000 crore is needed. The remaining 25% i.e. 47 crore vaccines have to be procured by private hospitals.

While a dose of Covishield and Covaccine is costing the government Rs 150, private hospitals will have to pay Rs 600 and Rs 1200 respectively. In this, private hospitals can charge a service charge of Rs 150. Therefore, for a dose of Kovishield, private hospitals will have to pay at least Rs 750, while for Covaccine Rs 1,350. This will happen if everything is done according to the rules.

Delegating the responsibility of 25% vaccination to private hospitals will reduce the pressure on the government health infrastructure. But on one hand the people of the country will get the vaccine for free and on the other hand the people of the same country will have to pay Rs 750 to 1350 for it. When vaccine companies are supplying to the government at the rate of Rs 150 per dose, then why at such a high cost to private hospitals?

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There are 3 crore people in the country who pay taxes. Right now their number has halved due to the Corona epidemic. In the event of an epidemic like Corona, there should be equality in the price of the vaccine available in the country, whether it is bought by the central government or a private hospital. The government should consider this.

Vaccine supply will increase
In the month of April, 43 lakh vaccines have been administered in 1 day. One crore vaccines can also be given in a day. For this, health infrastructure will have to be improved, small and big private and government hospitals, doctors, ASHA workers will have to be connected. The pace of vaccination can increase further if the Government of India has an agreement with foreign companies like Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson. In states like Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, the percentage of wastage of vaccine has to be reduced. There should be a system of providing vaccines to the state governments in proportion to the population. At present, 15-16 crore doses are being produced per month including Covishield and Covaccine. By the end of July, the production of both the vaccines can be up to 22-25 crores. Meanwhile, vaccines will also be available from Biological E, for which the Government of India has already placed an order of 30 crores. In such a situation, from August, the government will have so many vaccines that around one crore vaccines can be given to the countrymen every day. In terms of population, it takes time to make a complete system for vaccination in such a large country. The goal of vaccination cannot be achieved without the cooperation of the society, state governments and opposition parties. Everyone should be seen as a helper of the government in spreading awareness about vaccination and vaccination.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are those of the author.

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