The Uddhav Thackeray government is in favour of providing free vaccination for its citizens above 18 years in the third phase of vaccination drive, said Cabinet Minister Nawab Malik on Sunday.
Mr. Malik said the “Maha Vikas Aghadi government” will float a global tender to procure the “best vaccine at the best possible price” to fight the scourge. He said for two doses per person, the State government would need to purchase 14-15 crore vials for the third phase of the drive.
“The Centre had earlier announced vaccination for all citizens above 18 years with the caveat that the expenditure for the inoculation for citizens between 18-45 years will have to borne by the State governments. In the last Cabinet meeting, we discussed this issue and it was unanimously decided that the State would provide for the vaccination of all citizens in the 18-45 age group,” he said.
Following the Centre’s announcement, Mr. Malik said the Serum Institute of India (SII) had given its pricing for per dose of its ‘Covishield’ as ₹150 for the Central government, ₹400 for State governments and ₹600 for private hospitals while the Bharat Biotech (which rolls out ‘Covaxin’) had put out its price as ₹150, ₹600 and ₹1,200 respectively .
“Now that the prices of these two indigenous companies are out, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, who is also the Finance Minister has said the government would float a global tender to get the best vaccine at the most competitive price,” said Mr. Malik.
Also read: Centre contradicts Serum Institute of India on Covishield pricing, to purchase at ₹150 per dose
Facing criticism over its pricing of the Covishield, the SII on Saturday had responded by noting the “inaccurate comparisons between the global prices of the vaccine with that in India” while stating that Covishield remained “the most affordable vaccine available in the market today”.
“The initial prices were kept very low globally as it was based on advance funding given by those countries for at-risk vaccine manufacturing. The initial supply price of Covishield for all government immunisation programme, including India, has been the lowest.”
It had further clarified that only a limited portion of the SII’s volume would be sold to private hospitals and that the price was still lower than a lot of other medical treatment and essentials required to treat COVID-19 and other life-threatening diseases.
With Maharashtra facing a high demand for medical oxygen in the wake of ever-rising cases, 14 plants for producing the life-saving gas from the atmospheric air would be set-up in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), said Minister Eknath Shinde.