No import duty on covid vaccines till March 31 this year, as booster coverage remains low

Although import duty has been done away with, Covid vaccines still attract 5 per cent GST.

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Monday, January 16, 2023, 06:10 PM IST
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After years of following a rigid zero-covid policy that also affected the local industries and global supply chains, China is now battling a massive surge in infections. A report by the Peking University has also estimated that about 64 per cent of the country's population, which amounts almost 90 crore people, has been infected by the virus so far. As other countries remain vigilant against new mutations of covid, India has decided to do away with import duty on vaccines till March 31 this year.

India currently has 12 vaccines, including Russia's Sputnik as well as Covishield and Covaxin, which are being used widely. The government had first announced exemptions from import duty for vaccines in April 2021, and has been extending the provision ever since. At the same time, Covid vaccines are still coming with a 5 per cent GST, even as only 30 per cent of the population has taken a booster dose.

Giving the third dose free of cost for 75 days last year didn't do much to increase coverage to the same level as the first two doses. Making vaccines more affordable when they are paid will be the key to ensuring added protection of new variants of the virus in India.

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