While citizens across the country are trying hard to get COVID-19 vaccination slots, a government release data has revealed that private hospitals have only used 17% of vaccines doses supplied to them in the month of May. The data released suggests massive underutilisation of vaccines in the private health sector.
The information was revealed in a press release issued by the Union Health Ministry which said that 7.4 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccines were supplied in the country during the previous month. In accordance with the government’s decision, 25% of the total doses produced, i.e., 1.85 crore doses were made available for the private sector by the vaccine makers.
Out of these, the private hospitals purchased around 1.29 crore doses but utilized only 22 lakh doses for vaccination in May this year.
The high cost of vaccination in the private hospitals coupled with the already existing vaccine hesitancy could be the likely reasons behind this underutilisation.
Earlier this week on Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had addressed the nation and announced a restriction on vaccination cost at private hospitals. No private hospital in the country can now charge more than Rs 150 as a service charge for one dose of vaccine. Accounting for the vaccine price, GST and service charge, the cost of Covishield comes at Rs 780/dose. Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin will now cost Rs 1,410/dose while the Russian vaccine Sputnik V will be available for Rs 1,145/dose at private hospitals. Vaccination at government hospitals and clinics continues to remain free. However, the government has requested the rich to get vaccinated in private hospitals.