The state government has begun internal discussions about vaccine procurement from domestic manufacturers to immunise the 18-45 years age group.
Officials from the health department said the Centre has informed the state government that it would continue to provide vaccine stock for the 45-plus age group, but the state would have to do its own procurement to immunise people under 45 years. However, the state had not yet received an official communication on this.
A total of 8.5 crore people in the state are aged above 18 years, of them about 5 crore are in the 18-45 years age group.
“It is this pool for which we will need to procure vaccine. We estimate about 50 per cent people would prefer to visit government centres for vaccination, and the rest may opt for private centres or no jab at all. Based on that local purchases will be made,” a senior official from the health department said, adding that discussions are in preliminary stages as no official guidelines have come from the Centre yet.
So far only Serum Institute of India has disclosed its rates — Rs 400 for government hospitals and Rs 600 for private hospitals. Health officials said they estimate an expenditure of about Rs 2,000 crore for procurement of any two-dose vaccine. An official communication with SII over procurement is yet to begin. “Most likely the Maharashtra government will provide free vaccination in government hospitals,” another official said.
Municipal corporations are waiting for directions from the state on whether they need to purchase vaccines. BMC Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal said, “We can only plan when we have some information. Currently we hardly get stock that lasts three days. May 1 and the next phase of vaccination is still far, our current problem is to provide vaccine supply to all centres.”
Most private centres were shut on Thursday with limited vaccine stock. According to the commissioner, Mumbai has 8,000 doses in storage in F-North ward office and another 70,000 distributed to all vaccination centres.
Chahal said BMC can issue a global tender to choose from multiple vendors if there is clarity on import and necessary permissions required for foreign vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna. “Now there is no clarity on any of that. We have no option but to wait for Government of India guidelines,” he said, adding that if the state does the procurement, BMC will wait for the state to supply.
SII CEO Adar Poonawalla in an interview to CNBC TV 18 said it would be impossible to handle orders of small municipal corporations and hospitals and indicated an arrangement where states procure on behalf of hospitals.
Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has begun discussions on the possibility of placing collective orders with manufacturers on behalf of corporate houses and private hospitals. Joy Chakraborty, COO in Hinduja hospital and chairman of CII-Western Region, said, “We very much want to be part of vaccination and are looking at logistics.” He said discussions have begun amongst private hospitals to place a joint order but transport and storage may pose a challenge. “The current arrangement may work for all hospitals where BMC stores all vials in a central facility and distributes from there. We are looking at all options,” Chakraborty said.
The Centre has informed all states that Rs 250 per dose pricing will cease to exist from May 1 and private hospitals “may charge their service fee accordingly”. “Prices of Covid vaccine doses charged by private hospitals would be monitored by the Union and state governments,” the Centre told the states.
The Centre also informed states that certain vaccines that can be imported directly in the country and are “ready to use” will be allowed for use only in the 18-45 age group across vaccination centres.