In a crucial decision in the battle against Covid-19, a meeting of all high-level officials, top experts and ministers led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to allow vaccination to all above the age of 18 from May 1. The new vaccination rule will help India vaccinate at a record pace, he said. The industry as well as common people have cheered the government's decision, which will majorly impact the rising coronavirus tally in India.
Here are the highlights around PM Modi's meeting with officials:
- Under the new policy, vaccine makers will supply 50 per cent of their monthly central drugs laboratory released doses to the Centre and would be free to supply the remaining 50 per cent to states and in the open market.
- Makers would transparently make an advance declaration of the price for 50 per cent supply that would be available to states and in the open market before May 1. This makes it easier for states and private players to procure vaccines directly from the manufacturers. The eligibility through this channel would be opened up to all adults, i.e. everyone above the age of 18.
- Vaccination will continue as before in government vaccination centres, provided free of cost to HCWs, FLWs and all people above 45 years of age.
- All vaccinations will be part of the National Vaccination Programme and are mandated to follow protocols such as being captured on CoWIN platform, linked to AEFI reporting and all other prescribed norms. Stocks and price per vaccination applicable in all vaccination centres will also have to be reported in real-time.
- The government will also allow the imported fully ready to use vaccines to be entirely utilised other than government channels.
- The Centre will allocate vaccines to states/UTs based on the criteria of the extent of infection -- the number of active Covid cases and performance (speed of administration). "Wastage of vaccine will also be considered in this criteria and will affect the criteria negatively. Based on the above criteria, the state-wise quota would be decided," the statement said.
- The second dose of all existing priority groups, wherever it has become due, will be given priority, for which a specific and focused strategy would be communicated to all stakeholders.
- Phase-I of the national Covid-19 vaccination strategy was launched on January 16, prioritising protection for healthcare workers and frontline workers. As systems and processes stabilised, Phase-II was initiated from March 1 and April 1, focusing on all people above 45 years of age, accounting for more than 80 per cent Covid mortality in the country. The private sector was also roped in to augment capacity.
- India has so far granted emergency use authorisation to two indigenously manufactured vaccines (Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech), and a third vaccine (Sputnik), which is presently being manufactured abroad but will eventually be made in India.
- In Phase-III, the national vaccine strategy aims at liberalised vaccine pricing and scaling up of vaccine coverage, a government statement said, indicating the vaccine prices could go up this time. "This would augment vaccine production as well as availability, incentivising vaccine manufacturers to rapidly ramp up their production as well as attract new vaccine manufacturers, domestic and international," the statement added. The decision has been taken to make "pricing, procurement, eligibility and administration of vaccines open and flexible".