The Centre on Tuesday capped prices for COVID-19 vaccines for jabs that will be available with private centres. As per the latest update from the Health Ministry, the maximum chargeable price for Covishield is Rs 780 per dose, while Covaxin has been capped at Rs 1,410 and Sputnik V at Rs 1,145. The administration is also reportedly mulling an option to allow those able to pay for the vaccine to sponsor others.
The vaccine price announcement comes a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the central government will provide free COVID-19 vaccine to states for inoculation of all above the age of 18 from June 21. To this end, the Centre will now buy 75% of jabs from vaccine makers while private sector hospitals will continue to procure the remaining 25%. They will not be able to charge more than Rs 150 per dose over the pre-fixed price.
With a population of around 1.4 billion, India faces an uphill task when it comes to mass inoculation. Even as the a greater number of vaccines become available for free to the weaker sections of the society, the governement is also looking at possible alternatives. The Centre is now looking to "promote the spirit of Lok Kalyan" by launching non-transferable electronic vouchers that can be redeemed at private centers.
"This will enable people to financially support vaccination of economically weaker sections at private vaccination centres," the revised guidelines said. According to an NDTV report that quoted Dr VK Paul the scheme is currently a work in progress and "will be done by June 21".
While there is no official update on this yet, reports suggest that these vouchers will be download-able and can be stored on mobile phones and scanned at the vaccination centres.
(With inputs from agencies)