New Delhi [India], April 19 (ANI): In a significant decision to check the surge in COVID-19 cases in the country, the government on Monday announced that everyone above the age of 18 from will be eligible to take vaccine from May 1 and decided to make pricing, procurement, eligibility and administration of vaccines open and flexible. The decision was widely welcomed.
The decision on a liberalised and accelerated Phase 3 strategy of COVID-19 vaccination was taken at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Prime Minister said that the government has been working hard from over a year to ensure that maximum numbers of Indians are able to get the vaccine in the shortest possible of time.
He later said in a tweet that numerous key decisions were taken during this morning's high-level meeting on vaccination. "Together, we will defeat the COVID-19 global pandemic" he said..
In Phase-III, the National Vaccine Strategy aims at liberalised vaccine pricing and scaling up of vaccine coverage to augment vaccine production as well as availability. It seeks to incentivize vaccine manufacturers to rapidly ramp up their production as well as attract new vaccine manufacturers, domestic and international. It would allow all stakeholders the flexibility to customise to local needs and dynamics.
The government has made pricing, procurement, eligibility and administration of vaccines has been made flexible in Phase 3 of the world's largest vaccination drive and all stakeholders have been given flexibility to customise to local needs.
Vaccine manufacturers have been incentivized to further scale up their production, as well as attract new national and international players.
Vaccine manufacturers have been empowered to release up to 50 per cent of their supply to state governments and in the open market at a pre-declared price.
States have also been empowered to procure additional vaccine doses directly from the manufacturers, as well as open up vaccination to any category of people above the age of 18 for the sameThe vaccination drive started earlier will continue as before, providing free vaccination for essential and priority populations as defined earlier - healthcare workers, frontline workers and people above 45 years.
According to the main elements of the Liberalised and Accelerated Phase 3 Strategy of the National COVID-19 vaccination programme that would come in effect from May 1, vaccine manufacturers would supply 50 per cent of their monthly Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL) released doses to the central government and would be free to supply the remaining 50 per cent doses to state governments and in the open market.
According to a Health Ministry release, the manufacturers would transparently make an advance declaration of the price for 50 per cent supply that would be available to state governments and in the open market before May 1.
"Based on this price, state governments, private hospitals, industrial establishments among other institutions would be able to procure vaccine doses from the manufacturers. Private hospitals would have to procure their supplies of COVID-19 vaccine exclusively from the 50 per cent supply earmarked for other than the government of India channel. Private Vaccination providers shall transparently declare their self-set vaccination price. The eligibility through this channel would be opened up to all adults, i.e. everyone above the age of 18," it said.
The release said that vaccination will continue as before in central vaccination centres, where vaccines will be provided free of cost to the eligible population as defined earlier -- Health Care Workers (HCWs), Front Line Workers (FLWs) and all people above 45 years of age.
"All vaccination would be part of the National Vaccination Programme and mandated to follow all protocol 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 real-time," the Ministry said.
It said that the division of vaccine supply 50 per cent to Centre and 50 per cent to 'other than the government of India' channel would be applicable uniformly across for all vaccines manufactured in the country.
"However, the Centre will allow the imported fully ready to use vaccines to be entirely utilized in the 'other than the government of India' channel," the Ministry said.
The Centre, from its share, will allocate vaccines to states and union territories based on the criteria of extent of infection (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, state-wise quota would be decided and communicated to the states adequately in advance," it said.
The government has also decided that the second dose of all existing priority groups-- HCWs, FLWs and population above 45 years-- wherever it has become due, would be given priority, for which a specific and focused strategy would be communicated to all stakeholders.
"This policy would come into effect from May 1 and will be reviewed from time to time," the release said.
The Prime Minister said in the meeting that India is vaccinating people at world record pace and "we will continue this with even greater momentum".
The release said that India's COVID-19 vaccination strategy has been built on a systematic and strategic end-to-end approach, proactively building capacity across research and development, manufacturing and administration since April 2020.
It said India's approach has been built on scientific and epidemiological pillars, guided by global best practices, SoPs of WHO as well as country's foremost experts in the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC).
India has been following a dynamic mapping model based on availability of vaccines and coverage of vulnerable priority groups to take decisions of when to open up vaccinations to other age-groups. A good amount of coverage of vulnerable groups is expected by April 30, the release said.
It said that according to directions of Prime Minister, the Centre has proactively engaged and coordinated with stakeholders across the spectrum, from research institutes to national and international manufacturers and global regulators.
"The strength of India's private sector vaccine manufacturing capability has been strategically empowered through unprecedented decisive steps, from facilitating public-private collaborative research, trials and product development, to targeted public grants and far-reaching governance reforms in India's regulatory system. According to PM Modi's instructions, the government is in regular touch with each manufacturer, including having sent multiple inter-ministerial teams on site, to understand each one's requirements and provide proactive and customized support in the form of grants, advance payments, more sites for production, etc to ramp up vaccine production" the release said.
"This has resulted in Emergency Use Authorisation being granted to two indigenously manufactured vaccines (Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech), and a third vaccine (Sputnik) that while presently manufactured abroad will eventually be manufactured in India" it added.
The release said that the Centre has roped in the private sector in the vaccination drive right from the beginning. "Now, as capabilities and processes have stabilized, the public as well as private sector has the experience and confidence to rapidly scale up," it said. (ANI)