Calling the media reports alleging vaccine inequity in India's vaccination drive as "inaccurate" and "speculative" in nature, the Centre on Saturday said liberalised pricing and accelerated national COVID-19 inoculation strategy ensures vaccine equity.
It said the vaccine policy that was launched on May 1 facilitates better access and reduces the "operational stress" on government vaccination facilities.
"A 'Liberalised Pricing and Accelerated National COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy' was adopted on May 1, which is guiding the ongoing Phase-III of COVID-19 vaccination drive. It is reiterated that the Liberalised Vaccine policy, which envisages a larger role for the private sector and the Centre is setting aside 25 per cent of vaccines for the private sector. This mechanism facilitates better access and reduces the operational stress on Government Vaccination facilities in terms of those who could afford to pay and would prefer to go to a private hospital," the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said in a statement.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan also said that the reports of inequities in vaccine distribution were "completely baseless".
"Reports of inequities in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines are completely baseless. Pvt hospitals across the country received 1.2 cr doses in May ‘21 procured in a transparent manner & helping drive efficiencies in world’s largest vaccination drive," Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan tweeted.
The Union Health Ministry informed that as of June 1, private hospitals have received over 1.20 crore doses of COVID vaccines in the month of May 2021.
"As on May 4, 2021, a large number of private hospitals that have contracted with Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech have been supplied with Covishield and Covaxin doses. These private hospitals are not limited to the bigger metros but also from Tier II and III cities across States," it added.
The statement said that the Union Health Ministry is working closely with all States and UTs to make the COVID-19 Vaccination drive a success.
"The States with less number of private hospitals have been requested to review the status in the states and list out the better performing hospitals under AB-PMJAY and State-specific insurance schemes, keeping a geographical spread in mind and encouraging them to get in agreement with the vaccine manufacturers," the Ministry said.
Further, the Union Health Ministry said regular communication is also being done with all States/UTs informing them on the vaccines received by the private hospitals against the contracted doses so that their performance is closely monitored by the State/Districts.
"Also, a regular review is being taken with the manufacturers to follow-up on the status of each delivery that needs to be made to the states/Private institutions," it added.
(With inputs from ANI)