Amid a sluggish demand from adults for the precaution dose, the offer by vaccine manufacturers to compensate the price difference with additional doses (following the slashing of vaccine prices) has left private hospitals peeved. Not sure if the demand will pick up, many hospitals are instead demanding a refund from the manufacturers.
The Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (PHANA), which is deliberating on the issue, is all set to write to the manufacturers in a day or two asking them to make the offer optional.
A day before the Centre rolled out the precaution dose drive for all adults on April 10, the two major vaccine manufacturers announced large cuts in the price of their vaccines.
The procurement price of Covishield, manufactured by Serum Institute of India, and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin was slashed to ₹225 per dose, down from ₹600, and ₹1,200 respectively.
Along with 5% GST and ₹150 service charge collected by the private hospitals, each dose will now cost ₹386.25 for beneficiaries.
As private hospitals have huge stocks procured at the earlier prices, the manufacturers announced that they would compensate by supplying additional doses for the difference amount of the procurement price.
PHANA president H.M. Prasanna told The Hindu on Thursday that the manufacturers have announced the offer of additional doses (for the difference amountin lieu of old stock purchased at a higher cost) without realising the ground reality.
“The additional doses are more of a liability than an asset. They did not even discuss it with private hospitals before announcing. This offer should be made optional and those who do not want the additional doses should get the refund. I will write to the manufacturers about this in a day or two,” he said.
“With a poor turnout, hospitals are struggling to utilise the existing stocks. We have nearly two lakh doses in the State of which over 65,000 doses are with hospitals in Bengaluru alone. With the additional doses for the difference amount, our stocks will only increase by four to six lakh doses. We are at a loss to figure out how this offer will help us,” he said.
The Centre rolled out the drive to administer precaution dose against COVID-19 for all adults on April 10. The drive is as of now only in private vaccination centres. So far (till 3.30 p.m. on Thursday) as many as 8,041 people have been administered the precaution dose in the State, according to data from the State Health Department.
Hoping that the demand will pick up in the coming days, former PHANA president R. Ravindra said: “We are keeping our fingers crossed and hope to empty the existing stocks soon. As the beneficiary group this time is the working population and youngsters who are more informed, we are hoping the response will be better in the coming days.”