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Mumbai: Vaccination figures surge in private hospitals, stagnate in government centres

While Serum Institute of India (SII) refused to share the number of doses it has supplied to private hospitals, at least 16 hospitals in Mumbai have procured Covishield stock.

Written by Tabassum Barnagarwala | Mumbai |
Updated: June 1, 2021 12:45:28 pm
Mumbai covid vaccineCovaxin manufacturer Bharat Biotech said it has so far supplied to 10 city hospitals, but said it would need more time to ascertain exactly how many vials it had supplied to the facilities. (Express Photo)

The weekly vaccination numbers in private hospitals across the city have seen a jump in the last one month, in contrast to government centres where numbers have remained stagnant or even reduced.

Data for the previous week (May 22-29) shows 52 per cent of those vaccinated paid from their own pocket to get a jab. Over 20 private hospitals together immunised 1.22 lakh people, and 256 government centres, with ten times more capacity, immunised only 1.11 lakh people last week.

This is also the week when most private hospitals opened up corporate and residential society immunisation.

While Serum Institute of India (SII) refused to share the number of doses it has supplied to private hospitals, at least 16 hospitals in Mumbai have procured Covishield stock.

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Covaxin manufacturer Bharat Biotech has so far supplied to 10 city hospitals. The manufacturer said it would need more time to ascertain exactly how many vials it had supplied to the facilities.

Under the Centre’s 50:25:25 formula, manufacturers can supply 25 per cent of their production to the private sector.

Mumbai’s weekly vaccination numbers grew from 1.20 lakh in the first week of May when government opened up private procurement of vaccines to 2.33 lakh in the week ending May 29.

The private sector accounted for 24.7 per cent of the city’s total vaccination in May. Weekly vaccination by private hospitals doubled from 7,912 in the first week to 16,222 in the second week of May; from the third (29,622) to the fourth week (1.22 lakh), the count grew fourfold.

Private hospital vaccination numbers are further set to rise in June as they plan scaling up of corporate/society immunisation drives.

The Indian Express reached out to several hospital officials to work out the cost incurred by hospitals in immunisation and the profit margin they earn.

Private hospitals purchase each Covishield dose at Rs 630 (includes GST), it additionally incurs Rs 150-200 per dose on storage, manpower, data operators, syringes, and refreshments. A private hospital administrator said, “The cost per dose is somewhere between Rs 780 and 800, and can be further brought down by increasing volume.” Most hospitals are charging Rs 900-1,000 per dose if a person books a slot and walks in.

Some hospitals are charging higher for corporate and residential society vaccination, earning 20-30 per cent profit per dose even if cost of transport and ambulance is factored in. Dr Archana Patil, director (family planning), Directorate of Health Services (DHS), said the state is discussing price capping for vaccination by private sector.

R Ramakumar, economist attached to Tata Institute of Social Sciences, said, “Vaccine producers must be transparent with how many doses they supply to state and private sector. By business sense, they will earn more if they sell to private hospitals. In Mumbai, we are seeing an exponential rise in private immunisation. By opening up vaccination through private sector we ensure only the rich can afford to get vaccinated.”

Mulund Housing Society Vasant Oscar booked immunisation with Fortis Hospital, at a cost of Rs 1,050 for one Covishield jab. Fortis charges Rs 850 for walk in. Dr S Narayani, zonal director, said, “We have complied with all government guidelines. I cannot comment on vaccination rates.”

Nanavati hospital has fixed Rs 1,100 per jab for housing societies, for walk-in it is Rs 900. Jaslok hospital is charging Rs 1,500 for Covaxin and Rs 950 for Covishield for corporate and housing society drive. LH Hiranandani hospital charges Rs 1,000 per shot.

Apollo Hospital has decided to fix standard price of Rs 850 per dose for hospital walk-in or corporate booking.

Bombay Hospital has fixed the rate at Rs 800 per dose. “We will soon begin drives in corporate and housing societies. Our rough calculations are that it will additionally cost us Rs 10,000-20,000 to take an ambulance and team for immunisation,” a hospital official said.

Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), said, “We have adequate infrastructure but supply of vaccines from government is short. Private hospitals have liberty to vaccinate societies and corporates as they want.”

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