The plan was part of a review following one month of states and private hospitals being allowed to procure 25% of domestic vaccine production each when it had become clear that vaccine delivery had slowed down sharply.
Government sources said the PM’s nod and groundwork began before the Supreme Court’s June 3 observations and sought to rebut the Congress claim that the change in vaccine policy was prompted by the court’s critical observations.
Speaking on the new policy, sources said the private sector is an important force multiplier and a partner in the fight against Covid and it will have a significant role in the vaccination drive as states will be asked to aggregate hospitals willing to be part of the campaign.
The guidelines that will be framed to implement changes in the national vaccine policy announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday will reflect efforts to ensure a wider access to anti-Covid shots and improve private sector participation.
Official sources said vaccine supplies contracted by private hospitals as well as state governments under the 50+25+25 scheme that has been in force since May 1 will be fulfilled. Thereafter, government will step in to help ensure supplies to the private sector are better distributed and contribute to ramping up India’s vaccination drive.
Government data show that 53 crore shots will be available for use till July and 133 crore jabs are estimated to be procured from August to December. As of now, some 6.6 crore shots were purchased from the PM Cares fund and 28 crore from the domestic budget. The current estimate of 187 crore shots is for the entire year. The production and availability of Sputnik has increased on current reckoning. The figure is less than the estimated 2 billion shots put out earlier but officials said some under trial products, including those in phase 3, had been excluded.
The government also held that the pace of the vaccination drive in terms of sessions held and shots administered will relate to vaccine availability. It was argued that calculating a monthly average may not be accurate as the number of sessions will increase with availability and will also depend on how states improve access and carry out effective campaigns against vaccine hesitancy.
Officials said that the policy had been altered due to demands by state governments but the situation changed once it became apparent that supplies were not easy to come by.