Five days after the Supreme Court raised a series of questions on vaccine policy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday announced that the Central Government will provide free COVID-19 vaccine to states for inoculation of all above the age of 18 from June 21. The Centre has decided to buy 75 per cent of jabs from vaccine makers, including 25 per cent of the state quota, and give it for free to state governments, the Prime Minister said in an address to the nation. Modi said private sector hospitals can continue to procure 25 per cent of vaccines, but their service charge would be capped at Rs.150 per dose over the fixed price of the vaccine.
Modi Government was facing controversies when they asked the states to directly purchase vaccines from makers. Controversies peaked when vaccine companies increased the price of purchase by the states. Many states tried for global tender floating and failed. Due to the silence of the Central Government, vaccine companies like Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech declared increased price for states’ purchase leading to widespread criticism.
Modi said research is continuing on a nasal spray vaccine which, if successful, can significantly boost India’s vaccination drive, he said.
Supreme Court on June 2 asked a series of questions to the Central Government on the controversial vaccine policy, differences in pricing and distribution mechanism and widespread non-availability of vaccines across the country. The Centre is supposed to reply to the Court on June 30 and now Central Government has changed its policy by making centralized purchasing and giving vaccine free to all above 18 and the fixed price of Rs.150 as service charge at private hospitals.
In his speech, Prime Minister blamed without naming that many states demanded control over-vaccination and now found to have failed.
Modi said seven companies are producing various vaccines against the Coronavirus in the country and trial of three more vaccines is at an advanced stage. The process of procuring vaccines from companies of other countries has also been expedited, the Prime Minister said. Amid concerns expressed by experts recently over children being affected by the virus, Modi said that in this direction trials of two vaccines are being carried out. Modi said research is continuing on a nasal spray vaccine which, if successful, can significantly boost India’s vaccination drive, he said.
India proved its mettle by making two made-in-India COVID-19 vaccines in a short time and over 23 crore doses have already been administered, the Prime Minister said. Meanwhile as on date, 4.48 crore people are only fully vaccinated. This means that 3.3% per cent of the population is fully vaccinated in the country having more than 136 crore population.
Prime Minister asserted that efforts are being made on a war-footing to fight the COVID-19 pandemic at various levels and production of essential medicines was ramped up. India is fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic on multiple fronts and new health infrastructure has been created across the country, he asserted.
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