The Union health ministry on Tuesday said that the price of Covid-19 vaccines for private sectors and hospitals will be decided by vaccine manufacturers. The ministry also added that States will aggregate demand of private sector, which means they will oversee how much network of facilties it has, and how many doses does it require.

Speaking at the routing health briefing, Dr VK Paul, Niti Aayog member, also added that the Centre has placed an order to purchase 25 crores doses of Covishield and 19 crore doses of Covaxin. He also added that the government has also placed an order to purchase 30 crore doses of Biological E’s vaccine, which will be available by September.

“We should wait for the company (Biological E) to announce the price of their vaccine (Corbevax). It will depend on our negotiation with the company, under the new policy. The financial aid that has been given will meet part of the price.”

“The provisional scientific date of the vaccine (Biological E’s Corbevax) is very promising,” Paul added.

Paul’s comments come a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the central government will provide free coronavirus vaccine to states for inoculation of all above the age of 18 from June 21, and asserted that vaccine supply would be increased significantly in the country in coming days.

The Centre has decided to buy 75 per cent of jabs from vaccine makers, including 25 per cent of the state quota, and give it for free to state governments, the prime minister said in an address to the nation.

Modi said private sector hospitals can continue to procure 25 per cent of vaccines, but their service charge would be capped at 150 per dose over fixed price of the vaccine.

On the Centre’s renewed Covid vaccine distribution policy and whether the Centre introduced new guidelines for vaccination after Supreme Court’s verdict, Paul said, “We respect SC’s concern, but GoI was evaluating the implementation of the decentralized model since May 1. Such decisions are taken over a period of time, based on analysis and consultations.”

India currently uses the AstraZeneca vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India, and another developed at home by Bharat Biotech. Russia’s Sputnik V will be commercially launched in the country by the middle of this month.

The government is also talking to other foreign vaccine makers to buy additional shots.

India has so far administered over 23 crore doses of vaccines in the world’s biggest inoculation programme, which began on January 16.

India’s daily COVID-19 cases have dropped below 1 lakh for the first time in two months. The health ministry reported 86,498 new infections in the last 24 hours, down from 4,14,188 cases reported at the peak of the second wave on May 7.

COVID-related death rose by 2,123 to 351,309.

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