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COVID-19 vaccines | Not necessary to keep 25% doses for private sector, supply only what they buy: Centre tells jab makers

The private sector being unable to pick 25 percent of the COVID-19 vaccine dose supply is being seen as a hindrance to the vaccination drive's pace.

August 04, 2021 / 12:45 PM IST
Representative image: Reuters

Representative image: Reuters

The Centre has told the vaccine manufacturers that they do not need to keep 25 percent of their produce for private manufacturers and can supply to them only as much they buy, giving the rest of the doses to the government.

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya told Parliament in an oral answer on August 3 that it is not necessary for the manufacturers to give 25 percent doses in the private quota. News18 was the first to report on July 28 that the government was planning to reduce the 25 percent quota of vaccination supply for private hospitals, given their subdued response, and procure more on its end for supplies to states which have been asking for more doses citing their higher capacity to vaccinate people.

News18 had reported that private sector was unable to pick 25 percent of the supplies and this was hindering pace of the vaccination drive.

“We have seen in one month that in the private sector, 25 percent vaccines are not being utilized. Only 7-9 percent of the vaccines are being used in the private sector. So we have decided that vaccines not being utilised in the private hospitals be given in the government quota. Government has told all the companies … that it is not necessary to give 25 percent vaccines in the private quota. Give private hospitals as much as they buy, rest the government will take their supplies,” Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya told Parliament.

A question was posed to the health minister by Rajya Sabha member Sushil Modi, who asked if the government was planning to reduce the 25 percent vaccine quota for private hospitals as they were not able to utilise it and if the left-over quota can be given instead to state governments.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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As on date, about 2.3 crore vaccine doses are lying unutilised, and a significant portion of the same is with private hospitals. With states doing free vaccination, takers for the vaccine at private vaccination centers are down since the same is offered at a price of Rs 780 and Rs 1,410 for a shot of Covishield and Covaxin, respectively. Private hospitals are getting a service charge of only Rs 150 per dose under the revised guidelines since June 21, proving to be another dampener for them.

Hence, the private sector is not being able to pick 25 percent of the vaccine stock produced in the country, which they have to purchase at a much higher cost than the Rs 205 and Rs 215 being paid by the Centre to buy a dose of Covishield and Covaxin, respectively.

Multiple chief ministers have told the Centre that the government’s quota of 75 percent should be increased as states have higher capacity to vaccinate people but are getting limited doses while private hospitals are not picking up their 25 percent quota, leading to the overall vaccination drive not picking pace.

News18 had also reported last week that private vaccine manufacturers were complaining that they had stockpiles of vaccines since they were not being picked up by the private sector as part of the 25 percent quota.

In July, Union Minister Piyush Goyal while speaking at a CII event had criticised the private sector for not being up to the task. “You all (in private sector) demanded and sought that vaccination be opened up for the private sector. Today, you are not even buying those 25 percent of vaccines (allotted to you),” Goyal had said.

Follow Moneycontrol’s full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here
Aman Sharma is a writer at News18
first published: Aug 4, 2021 12:45 pm

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