Private hospital executives speaking off record said there was no clarity on supplies or prices right now, and that negotiations will start.
Fortis Group COO Anil Vinayak told ET, “We are waiting for the guidelines which are expected in a week. But our understanding is that private hospitals would need to procure directly from the vaccine-maker.”
What is clear is that from May 1, private hospitals will no longer offer the Rs 250 per jab option. Persons seeking their second dose after May 1 can choose to get the jab for free at a government vaccination centre or pay the price negotiated with the vaccine manufacturer at a private facility, provided supplies are available.
“The present dispensation where private Covid vaccination centres receive doses from government and can charge up to Rs 250 per dose will cease to exist,” said the policy document for phase 3 inoculation drive.
‘Price Would be Monitored’
“Private hospitals would have to procure their supplies of Covid-19 vaccine exclusively from the 50% supply earmarked for other than government of India channel. The price charged for vaccination by private hospitals would be monitored.”
Under the new policy, half the output of domestic manufacturers will go to the Centre while the rest will be for state governments and the open market, including private hospitals. That latter 50% will be sold to states and in the open market at a pre-declared price.
While private hospitals are waiting for more clarity regarding supplies, some have started talks with manufacturers. “We are in touch with Serum Institute of India, Bharat Biotech and Dr Reddy’s — it’s at a preliminary stage,” said an executive of a private hospital chain. “The person who is scheduled for a second dose would have the choice of getting it for free at government centres or at a cost at the private centre.”
The cost charged by private centres is currently subsidised at Rs 250 per dose – Rs 150 for the vaccine and Rs 100 as administration charge. The Centre has conveyed to states and private hospitals that the second dose for the 45 and above age group will be the focus.
“Second dose of all existing priority groups i.e. HCWs (healthcare workers), FLWs (frontline workers) and population above 45 years, wherever it has become due, would be given priority, for which a specific and focused strategy would be communicated to all stakeholders,” the policy document said.
The government has said it will approve the emergency use of foreign vaccines approved by the US, European, UK and Japanese regulators, apart from those on the World Health Organization’s emergency use list. These won’t be used in the public immunisation drive for people 45 and above, which will continue to depend on the two approved vaccines – Covishield and Covaxin. “This is subject to the approval process,” Vinayak said, with regard to foreign vaccines.
Since supply is limited, the government has already clarified that 50% of the monthly doses would be used by the Centre and remaining 50% would be released to state governments and in the open market.
“The fully ready-to-use imported vaccine would be allowed to be utilised entirely in the other than government of India channel,” by which it means state governments and the open market.