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The Hindu
The Hindu
Bindu Shajan Perappadan

Covovax data to be reviewed this week

The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) COVID-19 working group will review the data of the Serum Institute of India’s vaccine Covovax for children and adults later this week, according to senior health experts. India’s drug regulator had approved Covovax for restricted use in emergency situations in adults on December 28.

While more details on the move are awaited, Minister of State for Health Bharati Pravin Pawar, responding to a question by Rajya Sabha member Naranbhai J. Rathwa on price control of COVID vaccines Covaxin and Covishield, said these were two different types of vaccines and that their manufacturing processes were also different. 

Submitting her response this week in the Upper House, the Minister said the price of vaccine for procurement by the Government of India was negotiated by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) and its subgroups involving detailed deliberations with the vaccine manufacturers. Under the National COVID-19 Vaccination Programme, the vaccine was available free of cost at government COVID-19 Vaccination Centres (CVCs) to all eligible beneficiaries irrespective of their socio-economic status.

“The vaccine manufacturers are free to fix the price of vaccine for procurement by private hospitals, which has to be declared in a transparent manner. However, the Government of India has fixed a maximum service charge of ₹150 per dose over and above the price of vaccine for vaccine administration at private vaccination centres. State governments have been advised to monitor the price charged at private hospitals,” Dr. Pawar noted.

Redistribution of stock

Responding to another question by Rajya Sabha member Narain Dass Gupta, the Minister said the COVID-19 vaccine stock which had not been utilised and nearing expiry were usually taken up for redistribution by respective State governments, for their timely utilisation. States/Union Territories had also been advised to review programme coverage and vaccine wastage on a daily basis and redistribute the vaccine stock, if required, for their optimal utilisation even from private hospitals.

“The first dose coverage of 15 years and above is 95.5% and the second dose is 80.6%, hence the pace of vaccination has slowed down relatively as most of the target beneficiaries are already covered,” the Minister noted. 

Answering another question by Rajya Sabha member Roopa Ganguly on the National Health Authority being enabled to provide necessary support to States/Union Territories for ensuring free COVID-19 testing and treatment to all eligible beneficiaries under Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY), Dr. Pawar said COVID-19 treatments were captured in both general and COVID-19 specific packages of the AB-PMJAY. As of March 16 this year, a total of 8.74 lakh hospital admissions and 50.60 lakh tests were authorised for COVID-19 under the AB-PMJAY.

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