PM Modi, Not All 100 Crore COVID-19 Jabs Were Given for Free
It is true that the govt changed its policy and made vaccination free, but private sector was still charging for it.
The Quint DAILY
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Addressing the nation on Friday, 22 October, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about India's big achievement of administering 100 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses to its citizens and he added that they were administered for free.
"India has administered 100 crore doses to its citizens for free, without taking any money," he said.
(Prime Minister's remark can be heard around 5:35 minutes)
However, the prime minister's statement is inaccurate in the light of the fact that vaccines were also administered in private centres and these were paid for.
From March itself, when India launched its second phase of vaccination for senior citizens, the government had said those who get their shots at private hospitals will have to pay a service fee.
That amount went up drastically when a new vaccination policy was announced in May allowing states and private hospitals to procure vaccines directly from the manufacturers and the cost of the shots in these hospitals went up manifold.
Eventually, the government announced another change in its vaccine policy in June 2021 (shortly after the second wave) and the prime minister had then said that "75 percent of vaccination will be free and under the Centre, and 25 percent will be paid and bought by private hospitals."
SO DOES THAT MEAN SOME VACCINE SHOTS WERE FREE AND SOME WEREN'T?
Yes, that's what it would mean in essence.
On 7 June, Prime Minister Modi had announced:
Centralisation of the COVID-19 vaccination drive and said that 75 percent of the vaccines will be procured by the Centre and the private sector can continue to procure 25 percent of the vaccines.
For the vaccines procured by the private sector, the service charge was capped at Rs 150 per dose. So, the price for Covishield in India is Rs 780, Covaxin is Rs 1,410, and Sputnik V was capped at Rs 1,145.
It was announced that from 21 June, the Centre would provide free vaccination for all. Prior to this, those between 18-45 years had to pay for the inoculation, while it was free for those above 45 years.
What this means is that the government indeed made changes to its vaccination policy and announced free vaccination. But it is misleading to say that all 100 crore doses were administered for free because these doses will include the ones administered before 21 June (which weren't free for all) and would also include the vaccines given out by the private centres after 21 June.
As per the data available on ‘Our World In Data’ – an online publication for databases – the number of vaccines administered till 20 June were nearly 274 million (27.4 crore).
However, this would include both vaccines given out in both – private and government centres. It must also be noted that vaccination opened for all on 1 May.
Prior to that, in the first phase only healthcare workers and people above 50 years of age and under 50 years with co-morbidities were vaccinated.
In the second phase, people above 60 years of age and those over 45 with co-morbidities were being vaccinated.
DO WE KNOW MANY DOSES HAVE BEEN GIVEN BY THE PRIVATE SECTOR?
According to Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, private centres have administered six percent COVID vaccines in the country since 1 May.
While speaking at the Centre's weekly COVID briefing Bhushan had said that from 1 May to 22 September roughly 6 percent of the doses administered were in the private hospitals and the remaining were in the public health facilities.
Further, as per a response given by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in the Rajya Sabha on 20 July, around 7 percent vaccines were given in the private sector between 1 May to 15 July.
Another response in the Upper House, on the same day, stated that as on 16 July, the government had administered 10.91 crore vaccines for free to beneficiaries in the age group of 18-44 years.
As per the records and data given out by the government, it is correct to say that the government boosted free vaccination for all benefiting people, but it is misleading and inaccurate to claim that all the vaccinations which were given were free of cost.
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