Unused stock of around 60 lakh Covid-19 vaccines lying with private hospitals in India will be exported to other countries, the Narendra Modi government has assured hospitals.
Large, medium and small hospitals across India are sitting over an unused stock of around 60 lakh Covid-19 vaccine doses, out of which around 10% are set to expire by December. Majority of these vaccines, around 85% of the total stock, are Serum Institute of India’s Covishield (around 51 lakh) whereas the rest are Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin (around 9 lakh).
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“The hospitals have been assured that their stocks will be merged into the stock for exports. We are yet to finalise the modus operandi. However, most likely, the manufacturers will collect back the stock and use it for exports,” a senior official at the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare told News18.com. “The manufacturer will return their purchasing amount as soon as they receive the stock back.”
On being asked about concerns over expired doses, the official added that companies will consider discarding if the stock is nearing expiry. “However, we believe, the other stock will be utilised quickly as the government is planning to open commercial exports apart from fulfilling COVAX commitments and contribution to Vaccine Maitri.”
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The move was confirmed by Girdhar J Gyani, director general of the Association of Healthcare Providers (India), a lobby of private hospitals in India that includes Fortis Healthcare, Max Healthcare, Narayana Health and Medanta. “We have informed the Health Ministry that we have an unused stock of over 50-60 lakh vaccines. They told us that they will merge our stock in the export channel. However, they haven’t yet informed us of the exact timelines,” Gyani said.
The AHPI represents 2,500 speciality and 8,000 smaller hospitals across India.
According to government data, a mere 6% of all Covid-19 vaccine doses administered in the country starting May 1 were administered by the private sector. While private hospitals were charging a maximum retail price of Rs 1,410 for Covaxin and Rs 780 for Covishield, government hospitals were administering it free of cost.
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The private sector started vaccinations for adults on May 1 and were allocated 25% quota of all vaccines manufactured in the country.
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