May 29, 2021 2:26:15 am
Private hospitals in Mumbai are reserving about 40 to 50 per cent of their vaccine stock for corporate bookings, as from next week, many prepare to begin immunisation of employees of corporates that have entered into deals with them for the purpose.
The beneficiaries will pay 16 to 66 per cent extra for a Covishield dose and 4 per cent extra for a Covaxin jab over and above the procurement cost.
On Friday, private hospitals in Mumbai together immunised 25,683 people, up from 20,919 on Thursday, while government centres vaccinated 17,498 people, down from 20,211 on Thursday.
Since May 1, when private hospitals were asked to procure their stock directly from manufacturers, they have together immunised 1.48 lakh people above 18 years of age. The government centres, which are administering only second doses to the 45-plus age group, have immunised 5.55 lakh people in the city.
As manufacturers start supplying doses amounting to a few thousands to private hospitals, the count of daily immunisations in the private sector has risen in the last one week. Until a week ago, all private hospitals together were vaccinating 5,000 to 6,000 people a day. The figure crossed 10,000 by May 24, and 20,000 on Thursday.
In comparison, the stock that Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is receiving has remained the same.
Yet, private hospitals say their supply is “limited” and they have got the current stock after three to four weeks of placing a purchase request with the manufacturer.
While Serum Institute of India (SII) is selling a Covishield dose at Rs 600 to private hospitals and Rs 400 to the government, Bharat Biotech is selling Covaxin at Rs 1,200 to the private sector and Rs 600 to the government. This is excluding Goods and Services Tax.
Private hospitals are charging between Rs 700 to Rs 1,000 for a Covishield dose, an increase of over 40 to 60 per cent of the procurement cost, and Rs 1,250 for Covaxin.
Of the 21 private vaccination centres in Mumbai, at least 16 hospitals are offering Covishield and nine Covaxin although their supply is low. Some are offering both. Data from CoWin portal shows Sushrut and LH Hiranandani hospitals are charging Rs 1,000, the highest for Covishield across Mumbai (See graphic on Page 4).
“We have purchased vaccines and paid GST. To increase daily vaccination numbers, we had to hire more manpower. All this requires extra investment,” said Patrick B Pratap, Director (Administration) of Sushrut hospital. While the hospital has received requests for vaccinations from 16 corporates and half a dozen housing societies, it has begun by immunising BPCL and HPCL employees, Pratap added.
The hospital expects Sputnik stock with Dr Reddy’s planning to soon launch the vaccine by mid-June.
In April, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope had said the state will push the Union government to cap vaccine prices in private hospitals.
A state official, however, said with current market dynamics forcing the private sector to compete for doses, price capping may not immediately help.
“If we cap prices, private hospitals may withdraw from procuring vaccines,” the official added.
Joy Chakraborty, COO of PD Hinduja hospital, said, “We are using three refrigerators to store vaccines and a pharmacist keeps on checking the ice pack around the jabs. We have staffers to register, vaccinate and observe people post vaccination. We also provide refreshments. For a hospital, all these are additional financial burdens.”
The hospital has received requests from over 100 corporates and housing societies. It will begin their immunisation this week.
Private hospitals claimed that the current prices does not leave much margin for profit, but before May, as per government norms, they could charge only Rs 100 as handling charges per vaccine dose. Dr Gautam Bhansali from Bombay hospital said, “We were then buying vaccines at Rs 150 per dose and charging recipients Rs 250. We did not incur losses then.”
Meanwhile, to ease cost and human resources, Apollo hospital in Navi Mumbai has fixed Taj Presidency hotel and Phoenix mall as two locations for corporate immunisation.
Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani hospital has started immunising employees of companies under Reliance from Tuesday. Dr Santosh Shetty, CEO of the hospital, said they have 45 corporates and 30 housing societies in waitlist for vaccination, which they will take up once Reliance staffers are vaccinated.
Hospitals are utilising 40 to 50 per cent of their stock for corporate immunisations and using the rest to open daily slots on CoWin.
In Lilavati hospital, COO Dr V Ravishankar said they have vaccinated employees of one corporate office on Wednesday and are yet to accept requests from residential societies.
Hospital vice-president Ajay Pande said, “We have approached both manufacturers. We are getting limited doses.”
Global hospital has managed to procure 5,000 doses this week. “About 15 to 16 housing societies and 35 to 38 corporates have approached the hospital. The plan is to increase the number of vaccinations but it is directly proportional to the number of vaccines procured,” a hospital spokesperson said.
Fortis hospital procures stocks at the central level and distributes to hospitals across India. “About 10 teams have been deployed for community engagement programmes across multiple locations,” a hospital spokesperson said.
At Hinduja hospital in Khar, Medical Director Dr Avinash Supe said they have been approached by 12 corporates but are focussing on immunisation through CoWin app. “We have enough stock to last a month. But it took us a month to get the stock from SII,” he added.
As demand from corporates builds up, private hospitals plan to reduce slots on CoWin and increase engagement with housing societies and corporates to perform bulk immunisation at a faster pace. Hospitals said they are waiting for vaccine supply to first stabilise in government centres.
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