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‘Reports of inequities completely baseless’: Centre defends vaccine policy

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New Delhi, June 06: The centre on Saturday defended its liberalised vaccine policy and said the media reports suggesting inequities in distribution of doses were "inaccurate and speculative in nature".

The Centre reiterated that its policy, which came into effect on May 1, envisages a larger role for the private sector, reducing the "operational stress" on COVID-19 vaccination facilities run by the government.

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A 'Liberalised Pricing and Accelerated National COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy' was adopted on 1st May 2021, which is guiding the ongoing Phase-III of COVID-19 vaccination Drive. It is reiterated that the Liberalised Vaccine policy, which envisages a larger role for the private sector and the Centre is setting aside 25% of vaccines for the private sector. This mechanism facilitates better access and reduces the operational stress on Government Vaccination facilities in terms of those who could afford to pay and would prefer to go to a private hospital.

As on 1st June 2021, private hospitals have received over 1.20 crore doses of COVID vaccines in the month of May 2021. As on 4th May, 2021, a large number of private hospitals that have contracted with M/S Serum Institute of India &M/S Bharat Biotech have been supplied with Covishield & Covaxin doses. These private hospitals are not limited to the bigger metros but also from Tier II & III cities across States.

Some of the cities included are:

Guntur, Nellore, Srikalahasthi, Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh; Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh; Dibrugarh in Assam; Sambhalpur in Odisha; Ankleshwar, Kutch, Morbi, Vapi and Surat in Gujarat; Bokaro, Jamshedpur, Palghar in Jharkhand; Jammu, Srinagar in J&K, Bellary, Davangere, Mangalore, Mysuru, and Shimoga in Karnataka; Calicut, Ernakulam, Kochi, Kozhikode, Pathanamthitta, and Thrissur in Kerala; Ahmednagar, Akola, Aurangabad, Baramati, Kalher, Kolhapur, Nagpur, Jalgaon Nashik in Maharashtra; Kangra in Himachal Pradesh; Jalandar, Mohali, Bhiwandi, Ludhiana in Punjab; Coimbatore, Vellore in Tamil Nadu; Khammam, Warangal, and Sangareddy in Telangana; Gorakhpur, Kanpur and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh; and Durgapur in West Bengal.

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is working closely with all States and UTs to make the COVID-19 Vaccination drive a success. The States with less number of private hospitals have been requested to review the status in the states and list out the better performing hospitals under AB-PMJAY and State specific insurance schemes, keeping a geographical spread in mind and encouraging them to get in agreement with the vaccine manufacturers.

Further a regular communication is also being done with all States/ UTs informing them on the vaccines received by the private hospitals against the contracted doses so that their performance is closely monitored by the State/Districts. Also, a regular review is being taken with the manufacturers to follow-up on the status of each delivery that needs to be made to the states/Private institutions.

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