The dismal participation of private hospitals continues in India’s COVID-19 vaccination drive, as only 4-5 percent of the total shots administered against Coronavirus have been given in the non-government facilities, the latest Economic Survey report has confirmed.
In India so far, over 166 crore vaccine shots against COVID-19 have been administered and as on January 31, of over 1 lakh Covid vaccination centres across the country, more than 98,000 were in government hospitals.
“Except for about 4-5 percent of total doses administered in the country, rest have been administered at government COVID-19 vaccination centres,” said the latest survey report tabled in the Parliament on Monday.
Since the beginning of the country’s massive Covid-19 vaccination programme, the government has said that 25 percent of all the vaccines available in India will be available for direct procurement by private hospitals, which can sell the vaccines at specified rates.
This was meant to incentivize both the vaccine makers and private hospitals.
However, since July last year when the supply of two Covid-19 vaccines - Covishield and Covaxin - that have been pivotal in the country’s immunization programme, largely got streamlined and became easily available in government hospitals, their demand has been going down in private sector.
The low demand of Covid shots in private sector has been largely attributed to high prices of vaccine, contrasted with their easy accessibility in most of the government facilities, where they are available to all eligible beneficiaries without any cost.
On several occasions, in review meetings of the vaccination at private centres, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan has termed the slow pace of vaccination through such hospitals as a "cause of serious worry", but it has done little to improve the situation for private centres.