So far using two COVID vaccines – Serum Institute of India’s Covishield developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca and Bharat Biotech made-in-India Covaxin India began immunizing people in January. As of now, the government has allowed vaccinations only for health workers, frontline workers and those above 45 in a centrally-controlled process.
In a new development, vaccination will be opened to all above 18 from May 1, the government on Monday announced after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a series of meetings over India’s response to record daily surges in COVID cases.
PM Modi emphasizes that vaccination was “the biggest weapon” in the fight against the coronavirus and urged doctors to encourage more and more patients to get vaccinated.
“The government has been working hard for over a year to ensure that maximum numbers of Indians can get the vaccine in the shortest possible time,” said the PM.
Pricing, procurement, eligibility and administering of vaccines will be flexible in the latest round of the world’s largest vaccination drive. All adults can get COVID shots and states can buy doses directly from vaccine-makers in the “relaxed and fast-tracked Phase 3 strategy of COVID-19 vaccination, the government said, on a day the country reported 2.73 lakh new daily cases in the highest spike since the pandemic broke out a year ago.
In recent weeks, states like Maharashtra, Delhi and Punjab had called for opening up vaccinations and had also complained about running out of vaccine stocks. After the controversy, some news rules are set such as vaccine manufacturers will supply 50 per cent of their monthly Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL) released doses to the central government and will be free to supply the remaining doses to state governments and in the open market.
Manufacturers will pronounce prices in advance for the vaccines supplied to state governments and in the open market. Based on this price, state governments, private hospitals, industrial establishments can buy vaccine doses from the manufacturers. Vaccinations at central government centres provided free of cost, will continue for those eligible currently – health workers, frontline workers and those above 45.
The centre will allocate vaccines from its share to states or union territories based on the number of cases. Vaccine wastage can affect the quota of a state. The second dose for those eligible currently will be a priority.
While vaccinations have been slow compared to the centre’s target, the country has clocked over two lakh cases daily in the past few days. Recently, the government fast-tracked approvals for foreign vaccines cleared in other countries.