India. NewDelhi: Government of India announced the Phase-3 Strategy of Covid-19 Vaccination, to be rolled out from 1st May. According to the new strategy, under India’s National Covid-19 vaccination program, people above 18 years of age are now eligible to get the vaccine jab.
This announcement has come at the time when India’s vaccination rollout program has received criticism due to it’s slow pace, the reported issues of shortage of vaccines and criteria of essential population eligible for receiving the vaccine. Former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on Sunday, wrote a letter to PM Modi raising concerns on the current pace of the Covid vaccination drive, urging him to increase the vaccination capacity. He also suggested to decentralize power to states to design and implement the strategy for vaccine rollout and create category of people who should be eligible to receive vaccines.
Phase-I of the National Covid-19 Vaccination Strategy was launched on 16th January 2021, prioritizing protection Health Care Workers (HCWs) and Front Line Workers (FLWs). As systems and processes stabilized, Phase-II was initiated from 1st March 2021 and 1st April 2021, focusing on protecting the most vulnerable section of the society, people above 45 years of age, accounting for more than 80% Covid mortality in the country. The private sector was also roped in to augment capacity.
According to the press release issued by Health Ministry, Covid-19 Vaccine manufacturers would supply 50% of their monthly Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL) released doses to Govt. of India. They would be free to supply the remaining 50% doses to State Govts. and in the open market.
It also stated, Manufacturers would transparently make an advance declaration of the price for 50% supply that would be available to State Govts. and in open market, before 1st May 2021. Based on this price, State governments, private hospitals, industrial establishments etc would be able to procure vaccine doses from the manufacturers. Private Hospitals would have to procure their supplies of Covid-19 vaccine exclusively from the 50% supply earmarked for other than Govt. of India channel. Private Vaccination providers shall transparently declare their self-set vaccination price. The eligibility through this channel would be opened up to all adults, i.e. everyone above the age of 18.
To boost the vaccine manufacturing capacity in India, Government of India also made a key announcement offering an advance of over Rs 4,500 crore to the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech. The amount will be allocated to the firms from the centre’s Covid vaccination budget and is expected to improve the vaccine supplies.