Private hospitals write to Centre, say they are struggling to procure Covid-19 vaccines

Express News Service
NEW DELHI: Private hospitals in most parts of the country, barring metropolitan cities, seem to be struggling to carry out Covid-19 vaccination due to low supply by the vaccine manufacturers and coordination issues at the state level under the new inoculation regime.  

Days after criticism by the Centre for the slow pace of vaccination, their representatives have retorted in a letter to the government, which The New Indian Express has accessed, that the majority of the available vaccines this month has gone to the Central quota.

The Association of Private Healthcare Providers of India, in a letter to the Union health ministry has said that since vaccine manufacturing ramp up is yet to materialise fully, most of the stock is picked up by the central government for distribution.

After that not much was available for the private sector, they noted. It is only after July 15 there has been progress on procurement of vaccines by private hospitals.

“It is therefore not correct to say that the private sector was not showing interest in vaccination,” said the letter.

Of about 41 crore Covid-19 vaccine doses administered in India, it is not clear how many were given out in private hospitals. Sources said it could be in the range of 7-8 crore – the majority of which may be concentrated only in a handful of cities.

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From June 21, the Centre has taken over the responsibility of procuring 75 % of the total available Covid-19 vaccines in India while the rest is up for procurement by private hospitals.

Last week, in a review meeting of the vaccination at private centres, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan had termed the slow pace of vaccination through such hospitals as a “cause of serious worry”.

In the letter, the AHPI however pointed out that many hospitals were not able to get the vaccine for a variety of reasons, which could include the absence of coordination at state-government level and also inability on the part of manufacturers to supply the vaccine.

It also cited a recent survey carried out during the first two weeks of July among 70 private hospitals to gauge the status of supply of vaccines to private hospitals. About 77% of the hospitals said that they were not getting the vaccine on time and 41% hospitals said that there were no nodal officers appointed by state governments in their localities.

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“It shows that the new system which was to come in effect from 21st June, has still not been in full functionality and therefore it will not be correct to say that private hospitals were not showing interest in vaccination,” the association has said.