April 28, 2021 1:02:00 am
Hyderabad-based manufacturer Bharat Biotech has written to Maharashtra that it can deliver 5 lakh doses in May to kickstart the state’s immunisation programme to vaccinate the 18-44 age group. The indigenous vaccine will cost Rs 600 per dose, plus 5 per cent taxes.
The company asked the state for an advance payment to reserve the order. The manufacturer has, however, also stated the supply could increase or decrease based on availability.
State officials said that while Serum Institute of India has not responded to their query officially, the manufacturer has informed the state it can supply only after mid-May.
Bharat Biotech has told Maharashtra it can supply 5 lakh doses in May, 10 lakh each in June and July, and 20 lakh each in August, September and October. A date for May has not been provided. The order for 85 lakh doses will cost around Rs 535.5 crore for the state.
Bharat Biotech requested for a single point of delivery and for a purchase order to immediately schedule the stock for Maharashtra. The letter however stated, “The above (stock) is purely tentative which can either increase or decrease.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope said that with vaccine availability being a big issue, the state may find it hard to start vaccination for 18-44 age group from May 1. “Availability of vaccine is a big question, we can spend, there is no problem with that, but there are limited manufacturers who can supply,” Tope said while addressing media.
He added that Maharashtra’s situation was not unique and every state was facing the same issue.
Maharashtra has over 5 crore people in age group 18-44 years, and 12 crore doses will be needed for their two-dose vaccine and taking wastage in account. In total there are over 8 crore people aged above 18 years. Vaccination of 3 crore people, aged more than 45 years, will continue unhindered at all government vaccination centres.
The public health department has put forth a proposal giving the state government various options, from free vaccines, to charging those who can afford vaccine cost. “The cabinet will take a decision after assessing all available options within a day or two. By May 1 the CM will make an announcement about the state’s vaccination plan,” Tope said.
He said Maharashtra plans to float a global tender to procure vaccines. The state has also reached out to two domestic manufacturers, SII and Bharat Biotech, to place an order for 12 crore doses. Unofficially SII has informed state it can supply after May 20, Tope said.
He said the state can expand up to 4193 vaccination centres immediately to increase coverage. “Maharashtra has 2 per cent vaccine wastage, it is vaccinating maximum people. Yesterday we did 5.24 lakh immunisations. We are heading in vaccination drive in the country,” he said.
Tope said Maharashtra has appealed to Government of India to intervene if the state is unable to procure required stock due to shortage. “We also urge the Centre to fix prices of vaccines in private sector,” he said.
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