Govt places orders for 44cr doses of Covid-19 vaccines

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Covid-19 vaccines: The Union government has placed orders for 25 crore doses of Covishield and 19 crore doses of Covaxin to meet the additional demand for universalisation of the country’s vaccination drive as announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his televised address to the nation on Monday.

Modi had said his government will restore the centralised procurement of Covid-19 vaccines, whereby free vaccination will be provided to all Indians above the age of 18 years. While announcing that the Union government will directly buy vaccine from manufacturers and give it free of cost to state governments, the prime minister had kept 25% of the vaccines open for private sector.

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Govt redraws Covid-19 vaccine drive

After the prime minister announced changes in vaccination policy, the ministry of health on Tuesday placed an order for 25 crore doses of Covishield with Serum Institute of India and for 19 crore doses of Covaxin with Bharat Biotech.

India had been following a policy of supporting the vaccination drives of states and Union territories under the ‘whole of government” approach till May 1, when the Centre liberalised the vaccination strategy.

The additional 44 crore doses of Covid vaccines will be supplied till December 2021, starting immediately. The government has paid 30% advance for procurement of the Covid Vaccines to Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India.

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The central government has provided more than 24 crore doses of Covid-19 vaccine to states and Union territories so far. Of this, the total consumption including wastages is 23.47 crore doses. More than 1.19 crore (1,19,46,925) doses of vaccines are still available with states and UTs.

Meanwhile, India reported less than 1 Lakh new cases in the last 24 hours. The country had 86,498 new cases in the last one day, the lowest in 66 days. Active Covid-19 cases in the country declined further to 13,03,702, a fall of 97,907 cases in the last 24 hours. Around 2.73 crore people recovered across the country so far.

The Prime Minister’s Monday announcement came just a week after a Supreme Court order that questioned the vaccination policy, and asked for a course correction. The Supreme Court order criticised the Modi government for the decision to decentralise vaccine procurement, and differential pricing, allowing paid vaccination for citizens in the 18-44 age group.

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On May 1, the Centre reduced its role in vaccine procurement to 50% and asked states to procure vaccines at a higher price. The court criticised this decision, saying it goes against the spirit of the Article 14 of the Constitution that promises right to equal treatment.

On differential pricing, the apex court trashed the Union government’s argument that it could buy the vaccines for ₹150 per dose because of bulk orders. The court asked why it could not buy the entire vaccine doses, instead of asking states to pay double the price.