All Indian adults can register to get their coronavirus vaccine on the government’s Co-WIN portal or the Aarogya Setu app from April 28, the Centre announced on Thursday.
Everyone above 18 years of age can get vaccinated from May 1 in the Indian government’s third phase of inoculation. Only those over 45 and frontline workers were being vaccinated against the disease so far.
Under the third phase of the inoculation drive, vaccine manufacturers can sell half their vaccines to state governments and the private hospitals. The Centre said it will provide vaccines free of cost for only the first 30 crore vulnerable persons. After that, vaccines will not be subsidised as they are being at present.
The Centre had also liberalised and deregulated vaccine prices, which means the cost of getting inoculated will vary in each state. Unless the states subsidise the shots, the doses are also likely to get very expensive, a decision that has drawn criticism from some experts and opposition parties, including the Congress.
So far, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Sikkim and Assam have announced that they will provide free coronavirus vaccines to all adults above 18. Other states such as Rajasthan have urged the Centre to provide free vaccines for all.
The Centre had asked manufacturers to declare prices for 50% supply that would be available to state governments and in the open market before May 1. The Serum Institute of India’s coronavirus vaccine Covishield will be sold at Rs 400 a shot to state governments and Rs 600 to private hospitals. The Pune-based company will sell Covishield doses to Centre at Rs 400 per dose once the current purchase order ends. Earlier, the Centre used to get it at Rs 150 each, making it the cheapest available option if one gets a shot from a government hospital.
RS Sharma, the chairperson of the Empowered Group on Covid vaccination, urged all beneficiaries to book an appointment instead of just turning up at the vaccine centre, according to News18. Both on-the-site registrations and prior appointments are allowed as part of India’s vaccination drive, which first began in January.
“If you get a prior appointment, it will be better,” he said. “Otherwise, people might just walk in and their number could be much beyond the capacity of the vaccination centre…then there will be chaos. The best way to do it is through bookings and prior appointments. That way it will be much more orderly.”
India is currently battling a ferocious second wave of the coronavirus. On Thursday, the country reported a record-breaking 3,14,835 new cases, taking the total number of infections to 1,59,30,965 since the pandemic broke out in January 2020. For the first time, 2,104 deaths were recorded in the country. India’s toll rose to 1,84,657.
Several states of India are also facing a shortage of vaccine supplies though the Centre has said there is no such scarcity.
So far, two vaccines – one developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca and the other developed by Bharat Biotech – are being used in India. Both the vaccines are being manufactured within the country by domestic firms. While the Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine, locally known as Covishield, is being manufactured by Serum Institute of India, the indigenously developed Covaxin is being manufactured by Bharat Biotech.
A third vaccine Sputnik V – developed in Russia and to be imported and sold in India by Dr Reddy’s Laboratories – has also been approved by the Indian drug regulator.