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Centre orders 440 mn doses of vaccines

The union health ministry has placed orders of 44 crore doses of covid-19 vaccines that will be available till December 2021, starting now, government said on Tuesday.

The Union health ministry has placed an order with Serum Institute of India for 25 crore doses of Covishield and with Bharat Biotech for 19 crore doses of Covaxin, the government said. Additionally, 30% of the advance for procurement of both the Covid Vaccines has been released to Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech, the union health ministry said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday announced a shift from the government’s Liberalized and Accelerated Phase-3 Strategy of Covid-19 Vaccination starting May 1st until now wherein the centre was procuring 50% of the vaccines produced and providing them to States free of cost for administering to priority groups. The State Government and private hospitals were also empowered to directly procure from the remaining 50% vaccine pool. Under the revised guidelines for national COVID vaccination program the central government will now buy 75% of the total production of the vaccine manufacturers and provide to the states free of cost. Also, the central government will bear the cost of vaccination of all citizens except for those choosing vaccination in private vaccination centres.

“Immediately following the prime minister’s announcement, Ministry of Health has placed orders for 25 crore doses of Covishield to Serum Institute and 19 crores doses for Covaxin to Bharat Biotech Limited on 8th June 2021. These are in addition to the vaccine orders already placed with both the manufacturers. 30% advance amount for the same is being released to these manufacturers,” said Dr Vinod Paul Member (Health) in NITI Aayog and Chair of the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for covid-19 (NEGVAC).

“These orders are in addition to the recent order for 30 Cr doses placed on Biological E Limited. Union Government is focusing on strengthening research and development, capacity, enabling manufacturing and ensuring adequate availability of vaccines as a priority,” he said.

Paul further said that there have been recent requests by many States in last one month such as Punjab, Kerala, Sikkim, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Rajasthan and Jharkhand, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha, Tripura and Maharashtra, for centralized procurement by the union government.

In order to incentivize production by vaccine manufacturers and encourage new vaccines, domestic vaccine manufacturers are given the option to also provide vaccines directly to private hospitals. This would be restricted to 25% of their monthly production, the government said.

“Promoting the spirit of “Lok Kalyan”, people can financially support vaccination of economically weaker sections at Private Vaccination Centres through use of non-transferable Electronic Vouchers which can be redeemed at Private Vaccination Centers,” said Paul.

The central government said that more than 24 crore (24,65,44,060) vaccine doses have been provided to States/UTs so far, through Government of India (free of cost channel) and through direct state procurement category. Of this, the total consumption, including wastages is 23,47,43,489 doses (as per data available at 8 AM on Tuesday).

More than 1.19 crore (1,19,46,925) covid-19 Vaccine doses are still available with the States/UTs to be administered. Live Mint