The government of India on Monday, 19 April, announced the decision to permit everyone above 18 years of age to be vaccinated from 1 May onwards. The decision came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting with leaders from the pharmaceutical industry.
The decision was announced as part of a “liberalised and accelerated Phase 3 strategy of COVID-19 vaccination that will come in effect from 1 May”.
What Are the Main Elements of Phase 3 Strategy?
- Pricing, procurement, eligibility, and administration of vaccine will be made flexible in Phase three of the vaccination drive.
- Vaccine manufacturers will supply 50 percent of their monthly Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL) released doses to the Indian government and will be free to release up to 50 percent of their supply to state governments, and in the open market at a pre-declared price.
- Second dose of all existing priority groups, including healthcare workers, frontline workers and population above 45 years of age, wherever it has become due, would be given priority.
- Vaccination shall continue as before, in government of India vaccination centres, provided free of cost to the eligible population.
- All stakeholders will further be given flexibility to customise to local needs.
- States will be empowered to procure additional vaccine doses directly from the manufacturers.
PM Modi remarked in the meeting that it was because of the efforts made by the pharmaceutical industry that India is now identified as the “Pharmacy of the world”.
He also urged the industry to conduct more and more researches on threats that can occur in future, with regard to COVID-19.
Seeking cooperation from the industry, PM Modi assured that the government is undertaking reforms for new drugs and regulatory processes.
Finance Ministry Clears Rs 4,500 Cr Credit to Ramp up Vaccine Production
The Finance Minister on Monday, 19 April, agreed to sanction supply credit to COVID-19 vaccine manufactures Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India (SII). The credit will be sanctioned to the nodal ministers in charge of COVID-19, who will then pass it on to the two companies to ramp up vaccine production, reports said.
The ministry has cleared a credit of Rs 3,000 crore for SII and Rs 1,500 crore for Bharat Biotech.
However, it will take a few weeks before manufacturing can be scaled up enough to allow states to benefit from buying directly from the producers.
Earlier, several states had complained of vaccine shortages including Punjab, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Telangana, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Delhi.
However, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan had dismissed such reports and had tweeted on 8 April, “Hue and cry by certain states about partisanship by the Union government is just a farce, an attempt to hide their own incompetence.”
India on Monday, 19 April, reported 2,73,810 new COVID-19 cases, 1,619 fatalities and 1,44,178 discharges in the last 24 hours, as per the Union Health Ministry. The total case tally has now reached 1,50,61,919 with 19,29,329 active cases and 1,78,769 deaths.