Govt places orders for 44 crore doses of Covishield & Covaxin after PM announces new vaccine policy

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New Delhi, Jun 8 (PTI) The Centre on Tuesday said it has placed fresh orders for 44 crore doses of Covishield and Covaxin after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the Centre would take over the state procurement quota and provide free jabs to state governments for inoculation of all above the age of 18.

These 44 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccines will be available till December 2021, starting now, the Union Health Ministry said.

'In immediate follow-up of the prime minister's announcement of these changes in the Guidelines of National COVID Vaccination programme yesterday, the Centre 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.

'Additionally, 30 per cent of the advance for procurement of both the COVID-19 vaccines has been released to Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech,' an official said.

In an address to the nation on Monday, the prime minister announced that the central government would would take over the 25 per cent state procurement quota and provide free coronavirus vaccines to states and union territories for inoculation of all above 18 years of age from June 21.

Asserting that vaccine supply would be increased significantly in the coming days, Modi said the Centre has now decided to buy 75 per cent of jabs from vaccine makers for free supply to states, while private sector hospitals will continue to procure the remaining 25 per cent.

The government has also set the maximum price private hospitals can charge for the three COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the country -- Covishield Rs 780 per dose, Covaxin Rs 1,410 and Sputnik V Rs 1,145.

In a letter to all states and union territories on Tuesday, the Health Ministry suggested that appropriate strict action be taken against private vaccination centres for overcharging.

The maximum price of Covishield for private COVID-19 Vaccination Centres (CVCs) has been fixed at Rs 780 per dose, while that of Covaxin is Rs 1,410 per dose and Sputnik V Rs 1,145 per dose, it said.

The official said the Centre has been supporting the efforts of states and union territories for an effective vaccination drive under the 'whole of government approach' since January 16 this year.

Based on various representations received by the Centre, the vaccination for all adults above 18 years of age was opened in the Phase III of vaccination strategy beginning May 1.

'Now with the aim to further universalise the countrywide vaccination drive, all citizens above 18 years of age can receive the COVID-19 vaccine doses free of cost at government health facilities,' the official said. PTI PLB/UZM SMN SMN

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