Even as the Centre has announced that Covid booster doses
for the adult population will be administered in the private sector, hospitals
are cautious about procuring fresh stocks of Covid vaccines as they are
doubtful about how many people would come forward for a paid booster dose
programme amidst an abating pandemic. While several large hospitals already
have stocks, smaller ones are still waiting.
The government has asked private hospitals to disclose
their current stocks of vaccines on CoWin. They can use the procurement module
of CoWin for getting vaccine stocks.
The announcement to open the third dose for all comes at
a time when China is seeing a fresh rise in infections, though India’s pandemic
situation is under control.
According to a Times of India report, leading hospitals
in Delhi already have vaccines in stock and are planning to start vaccination
from Monday. However, placing orders for more doses will depend on demand
during the first few days.
Girdhar Gyani, director-general of the Association of
Private Healthcare Providers said “We are expecting initial hesitancy for booster
doses because people feel Covid-19 is gone and there is no need for boosters.
The demand is likely to be low, particularly when one has to pay for it. The
government must revive the campaign to boost up demand and assure private
hospitals and clinics that they will be compensated if the stocks are not
Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech have
said that they will cut the price of their respective vaccines Covishield and
Covaxin to Rs 225 per dose for the private sector from April 10. Private
hospitals have been assured by Bharat Biotech that it will compensate for the
differential in the pricing of the present stocks with additional doses, but
SII has not yet clarified the matter. Earlier, one dose of SII’s Covishield was
priced at Rs 600 plus taxes and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin at Rs 1,200 plus
Rajesh Bhushan, health secretary, addressed an
orientation assembly of health secretaries of all states and UTs on March 9 and
said that no new registrations are needed for the precaution dose since all
eligible beneficiaries have already been enrolled on CoWin.