Maharashtra minister and Nationalist Congress Party spokesperson Nawab Malik on Sunday announced that the state government will vaccinate all its adult citizens against the coronavirus for free, NDTV reported. Malik said the move was discussed with the state Cabinet and global tenders for vaccination will be floated soon.
Maharashtra, the worst-hit state by the pandemic, has been reporting over 60,000 coronavirus cases daily. The state’s positivity rate, which is the percentage of people who test positive for the virus of those overall who have been tested, is 16.61%.
The Ashok Gehlot-led Rajasthan administration also announced free Covid-19 vaccines for all adults in the state. “The Rajasthan government has decided to provide free coronavirus vaccine to all the people above 18 years of age in the state by spending an amount of about Rs 3,000 crore,” the chief minister tweeted.
On Monday, the Narendra Modi government announced a number of changes to India’s coronavirus vaccination drive, including making every adult eligible to get a shot starting May 1. At present, only those over 45 and frontline workers are being vaccinated against the disease. Under the new rules, the Centre will automatically receive only 50% of vaccines produced by manufacturers. It will allocate these to the states under a new set of criteria, including the number of active cases of the infection, wastage of vaccines among others. The remaining 50% can be acquired by the states directly or by private hospitals and industrial establishments, at a price.
Besides Maharashtra, Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Saturday announced the government will vaccinate those between 18 to 45 years for free of cost, India Today reported.
The governments of Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Jharkhand, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Goa, Sikkim, Bihar, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Haryana have also made similar announcements.
Biotechnology company Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin vaccine will cost Rs 600 per dose for state governments and Rs 1,200 for private companies. The vaccine will be priced between $15 and $20 (approximately Rs 1,120 and Rs 1,500) for export. Meanwhile, Serum Institute’s Covishield will be sold at Rs 400 a shot to state governments and Rs 600 to private hospitals.
The decision to vaccinate all citizens above 18 came as India is struggling with a second wave of the pandemic. India reported 3,49,691 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, another record since the start of the pandemic in January 2020. The country also reported 2,767 deaths, also a daily record, amid an alarming shortage of medical oxygen and beds everywhere.