The projected 18-plus population in the country is 94 crore and therefore, the total requirement of COVID-19 vaccine doses for the beneficiaries in this age group is 188 crore, but the number may reduce if in the future, single-dose vaccines are approved and used, the government told Parliament on Tuesday.
In a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha on whether the present Covid vaccine manufacturing firms have the capacity to produce the required quantity, Minister of State for Health Bharati Praveen Pawar said it is estimated that around 1.87 billion (187 crore) doses will be available between January and December 2021.
In addition, a few vaccines under development may also receive approval and may be available for use to inoculate the eligible population, she added.
In a separate written reply, Pawar said the price of the Covid vaccines declared by the two domestic manufacturers for procurement by private hospitals is Rs 600 for Covishield and Rs 1,200 for Covaxin.
In addition, Rs 948 is the price declared for Sputnik V, which is presently imported in the country.
The government has fixed a maximum service charge of Rs 150 per dose over and above the price of the vaccines for administration at private COVID-19 vaccination centres (CVCs). However, the vaccines continue to be provided for free to all eligible beneficiaries at the government CVCs.
The manufacturers are free to fix the price of the vaccines for procurement by private hospitals. However, the same has to be declared in a transparent manner, which has been done by the firms, the minister said.
Replying to another question, Pawar informed that the Covid vaccines presently available in the country do not have VVMs (Vaccine Vial Monitors).
The storage and transportation of the vaccines from the manufacturer to the site of administration is ensured in a temperature-controlled environment at 2-8 degrees Celsius.
The VVM is manufactured by a single offshore manufacturer and requires end-point studies at various duration to finalise the type to be used on each vaccine.
In view of the global urgency to use Covid vaccines upon development, the requirement of a very high quantity of VVMs and the limited production capacity, the vaccines are being used without VVMs across the world, the minister said.
A robust cold chain network of around 29,000 cold-chain points, along with insulated or refrigerated vaccine vans, is used to ensure the storage and transport of the vaccines in a temperature-controlled environment. The storage temperature is also being monitored on a real-time basis to ensure that the vaccines are not exposed beyond the recommended storage temperature, the reply stated.