K’taka Approves Purchase of 1 Cr Covishield Vaccines at Rs 400 Cr

The Karnataka government has not said if the price is being passed onto the state’s residents.

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Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa

Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa approved the purchase of 1 crore doses of the Covishield vaccine on Thursday, 22 April. The purchase of the one crore doses at a cost of Rs 400 has been approved in the first phase. This will be used to vaccinate everyone above the age of 18, as per the third phase of the Union government’s vaccine policy.

The amount has been sanctioned for Covishield, the vaccine by AstraZeneca produced by the Serum Institute of India. This comes a day after the company said that it would be pricing it for Rs 400 for state governments and Rs 600 for private hospitals.

The Karnataka government has not said whether it will provide the vaccine free of cost to the state’s residents, whether it will be subsidised or if it will be bearing the cost of the vaccine.

In yet another surge, Karnataka on Thursday reported 25,795 new COVID-19 cases, of which Bengaluru accounted for 15,244 cases. The state saw 123 fatalities, and Thursday’s surge took the total number of cases to 12,47,997 and the death toll to 13,885.

Under the third phase of the national vaccination drive starting 1 May, the vaccine manufacturers would supply 50 percent of their monthly Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL) released doses to the central government and the remaining 50 percent doses to state governments and in the open market.

Manufacturers have to make an advance declaration of the price for the 50 percent supply that would be available to the state governments and in the open market before 1 May 2021. It was after this that the Serum Institute of India declared its price. Bharat Biotech is yet to do so.

Based on this price, state governments, private hospitals, industrial establishments, etc, would be able to procure vaccine doses from the manufacturers.

Registration for vaccination against COVID-19 for all those aged above 18 will begin on the Co-WIN platform and Aarogya Setu app from 28 April, officials said on Thursday.

According to the Liberalised Pricing and Accelerated National COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy, COVID-19 vaccination will continue to be free for eligible population groups, comprising healthcare workers, frontline workers and people above 45 years of age at government vaccination centres, which receive doses from the Government of India.

"The present dispensation where private COVID vaccination centres receive doses from the government and can charge up to Rs 250 per dose will cease to exist," the Union Health Ministry said.

For government vaccination centres, the eligible population would be the same, which exists today, that is healthcare workers (HCWs), frontline workers (FLWs) and population above 45 years of age.

(This story was first published in The News Minute and has been republished with permission)

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