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Around 22.8 million precaution or booster dose have been administered to healthcare and frontline workers along with senior citizens after the population segments opened up in the first week of January.

Mumbai, NFAPost: India opened ‘precaution dose’ or third shot for all adults at private vaccination centres from April 10. As the XE fear grips the world, India braces up to give a third dose of Covid-19 vaccine to all its adults. This time one has to pay for getting the jab at a private vaccination centre.

The Union Health Ministry on Friday said that the ongoing free government vaccination drive for first, second as well as precaution dose for healthcare workers, frontline workers and senior citizens would continue. The Health Ministry said that this drive would be further accelerated.

The move is expected to liquidate inventory lying with vaccine makers. Both Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech had stopped Covid19 vaccine production recently owing to low demand and inventory pile up. Private hospitals, however, are in a wait and watch mode, as they have stock lying with them.

Commenting on India approving the booster dose, Adar Poonawalla, CEO, Serum Institute of India, said, “We are delighted by GOI’s announcement on booster. The decision will further provide long term protection and aid ease of travel.”

Dilip Jose, MD of India’s second-largest hospital chain Manipal Hospitals said, “We have some stock available and would wait to see the response before placing fresh orders.”

About 96% of children above 15 years have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, while about 83% of the above 15 years population has received both doses.

India has administered 1.85 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines so far, according to the CoWin dashboard. Covishield accounted for 83.3% of all doses administered in India, while Covaxin accounted for about 16% of the total doses.

Around 22.8 million precaution dose have been administered to healthcare and frontline workers along with senior citizens after the population segments opened up in the first week of January.

Last June the Centre had capped the administration charges for private vaccination centres at Rs 150 per dose. The Centre instructed private vaccination centers not to charge more than Rs 780 for Covishield, Rs 1410 for Covaxin and Rs 1145 for Sputnik V including taxes and administration charges.

Covishield costs Rs 600 per dose for private centers, while Covaxin costs Rs 1200 per dose, and Sputnik V is priced at Rs 948 per dose (excluding GST). Biological E has said that it would price Corbevax at Rs 800 per dose (excluding all taxes).

In a letter to the Health Ministry, SII had said in March that it is looking to price Covovax (Novavax vaccine) at Rs 900 (excluding taxes) in the private market. Zydus Lifesciences supplies its three-dose DNA vaccine ZyCoV-D to the Centre at Rs 265 per dose and the needle free applicator device costs Rs 93 per dose. Both Covovax and ZyCoV-D are not available at private vaccination centers yet.

The move to allow people to take shots at private vaccination centers may again bring back demand for the vaccine makers. Both SII and Bharat Biotech had stopped production of Covid19 vaccines and were focusing on non-Covid vaccines as demand dwindled. SII has an inventory of 200-250 mn doses of Covishield, while Bharat Biotech said that it has completed all its supply commitments.

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