Amid a time when the country is reporting vaccine shortage, the date from the government shows that only 17 percent of the doses were utilized by private hospitals last month, leaving a massive stock unused.
A Health Ministry press release released earlier this month showed that a total of 7.4 crore doses were made available across the country in May, out of which 1.85 crore doses were earmarked for private hospitals. However, the government data shows that only 22 lakh doses were utilised, NDTV said in a report.
On the other hand, experts believe that the huge stock lying with the private hospitals could be due to the high prices at these hospitals in comparison to government-run hospitals and vaccine hesitancy. Private hospitals across India procured 1.29 crore vaccine doses of the available 1.85 crore shots, the report added.
The government stated the numbers to rebut some reports that claimed only 7.5 percent of the vaccines were being used. The government press release read, “Few media reports have mentioned that ’25 per cent doses allocated to private hospitals, but they account for only 7.5 per cent of total jabs’. These reports are not accurate and do not match with the available data.”
Similarly, while the vaccination centres run by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and the state government were shut in Mumbai due to shortage in June, lakhs of doses were still available with private hospitals.
A report in The Indian Express said that while Maharashtra procured 25.10 lakh vaccine doses in May, private hospitals, on the other hand, purchased 32.38 lakh doses, the highest in any state. In Mumbai the private hospitals procured 22.37 lakh doses, four times more than the 5.23 lakh doses the civic body Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation was allocated by the state government.
The report also said that the data of the BMC showed that from May 1 till June 2, private hospitals administered only 3.34 lakh doses in Mumbai. This means, they could utilise only about 15 per cent of their total stock.
Earlier this month, the centre brought changes in the vaccination policy fixing the maximum price that private hospitals can charge for Covid vaccines. It fixed the Covishield shot at Rs 780, Covaxin jab at Rs 1,410 and Rs 1145 per Sputnik V dose. The new price is according to the revised guidelines issued by the Health Ministry.
According to the revised policy, the government will procure 75 per cent of the vaccines being produced by manufacturers in the country. “The vaccines procured will continue to be provided free of cost to states and UTs as has been the case from the commencement of the national vaccination programme. These doses will be administered by the states/UTs free of cost to all citizens as per priority through government vaccination centres,” the revised guidelines stated.
More than 25.87 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses have been provided to states and union territories so far through the Centre and direct state procurement category, the Union health ministry said on Saturday. Of 25,87,41,810, the total consumption, including wastage, is 24,76,58,855 doses (according to data available at 8 am on Saturday), the ministry said in a statement.