Maharashtra: Experts predict scramble after private hospitals asked to procure COVID-19 vaccines from manufacturers
Maharashtra: Experts predict scramble after private hospitals asked to procure COVID-19 vaccines from manufacturers

Mumbai: Doctors and medical practitioners predict a scramble for shots when it comes to vaccine procurement directly from the manufacturers, and not from the state governments, from May 1. They have sought clarity on supply and timely availability as private hospitals, state governments and industrial establishments have to procure their supplies exclusively from the 50 per cent supply earmarked for other than the Government of India channels.

This distribution of vaccine supply, which would mean 50 per cent for the government of India and 50 per cent for others, will be applicable across the board for all vaccines manufactured in the country. The price charged by private hospitals for vaccination will be monitored. However, doctors have serious concerns over the procurement, as states may get a larger portion of the pie followed by industrial establishments, while private hospitals may have to struggle.

A leading surgeon from Nanavati Hospital, Dr Parthiv Sanghvi, said the mayhem would continue as there is a total lack of coordination between the Centre and the states. Vaccine producers are already overwhelmed. “Now in such circumstances, it will be survival of the fittest. There will be a scramble,’’ he felt.

Further, Dr Sanghvi said in this scenario of differential pricing, clarity was needed on the quota that would be allotted to the state governments by the manufacturers but allotment criteria were yet to be set.

“Now, there is another party added to the clamour for vaccines - private hospitals. Unfortunately, they will have to shell out more to get vaccines. What will be the criteria for supply to private hospitals? Will there be differential supply between private hospitals in urban and rural areas? These questions still remain unanswered,” noted Dr Sanghvi.

Indian Medical Association Secretary General (Headquarters) Dr Jayant Lele said, the government had embarked on the rollout for the 18-44 years age group without clarity. “The government should have gone ahead after taking into consideration the production, supply and availability of vaccine doses. For a week or so, there will be huge rush. Private hospitals will have to procure directly from manufacturers, provided they have sufficient stock. Let us wait and watch. Initially, there will be a mess but the procurement and the vaccination by private as well as government hospitals will gradually settle down,” he noted.

Additional Chief Secretary, Maharashtra Public Health Department, Dr Pradeep Vyas said, “The state government right now supplies vaccine doses to private hospitals against payment. But from May 1, this will cease. As per the government of India directive, private hospitals will have to procure directly from the manufacturers.”

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