With both Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech asking private hospitals to start offering COVID-19 vaccine booster shots at the revised rates, promising that the price differential would be compensated through free doses later, healthcare providers have now decided to join the drive.

Their decision to join the expansion of the nationwide vaccination drive against the coronavirus, under which booster doses will also be available to those in the 18-59 age group at private hospitals from April 10, comes following a nudge by the Centre.

The new rates stipulate that both Covaxin by Bharat Biotech and Covishield by Serum Institute of India will now be available to private hospitals at Rs 225 per dose. Earlier the manufacturers were charging the hospitals Rs 1,200 and Rs 600 for the vaccines, respectively.

Meanwhile, a look at the Cowin dashboard run by the government to show COVID-19 vaccination-related data showed that on day 1 of booster doses opening for all adults, less than 10,000 shots had been administered. However, this number crossed the 60,000 mark on April 11.

Coverage is also limited at the moment, with 1,471 private suites offering COVID-19 shots, way lower than the 53,000-plus government hospitals where jabs against the coronavirus are being provided.

Private hospitals in many parts of the country had earlier expressed reservations about offering COVID-19 shots at the revised rates. They wanted a clear message from the government on how the losses incurred by offering doses procured at higher rates at lower prices would be compensated.

However, a clarification by SII helped. The Pune-based manufacturer said that “the price differential for holding usable stocks of Covishield shall be compensated in the form of cost-free doses.”

Bharat Biotech, on the other hand, has not issued any written statement yet but sources in the company said that it would follow suit and the message has been conveyed to private hospitals.

 

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