Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said the pace of inoculation in the country is not slow and 40 per cent of the total vaccines administered across the world in a single day are in India.
As many as 4.85 crore people have received anti-COVID-19 vaccine till now, with over 32.5 lakh taking it in the last 24 hours, the government told Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.
Replying to supplementaries during the Question Hour, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said the pace of inoculation in the country is not slow and 40 per cent of the total vaccines administered across the world in a single day are in India.
“I have to say that it is not correct that the speed of vaccination is slow. Till today morning, 4.85 crore people have taken vaccines in the country, and in the last 24 hours, as many as 32,53,095 people have taken vaccines,” he said when asked about the vaccination drive being slow.
“Of the total vaccines administered in a single day, 40 per cent of it is administered in India,” Vardhan told the House.
The minister in a written reply said that the government of India is coordinating with state governments at all levels and the highest example is the prime minister’s continuous dialogue with chief ministers on COVID-19 and how the vaccination drive can be sped up. The Centre is providing vaccines to all states, he said.
“The government of India is in touch with state governments. We have a national expert group on vaccine administration which guides us on vaccination,” Vardhan said.
On a question about private hospitals allegedly overcharging and not providing free services to the poor despite being given free or subsidised land, he said health is a state subject and state governments make agreements when such land is given, and they monitor the process.
“When required, the government of India holds meetings with different hospitals on capping hospital charges,” he said, citing the example of capping the price of COVID-19 vaccines.
Vaccines are being provided to all states, including Maharashtra, on the basis of a ratio of vaccines provided and used by states, the minister informed when a member asked for more vaccines for the state which has the highest number of coronavirus cases in the country.
“Adequate vaccines are available to all states and there is no shortage. Efforts are on to improve coverage of vaccination and the central government is fully committed to help states,” he said.
On free vaccination in private hospitals, Vardhan said while vaccine is being provided at no cost in government hospitals, Rs 250 is being charged at private facilities. Those who can afford it, should go to private hospitals, he said.
To a question on hesitancy among people to take vaccines, he said many are taking the shots following several awareness campaigns by the government.
“In this regard, 7,84,612 sessions have been held and 2,02,31,137 people above 60 years of age have been administered vaccine after the vaccination process started on March 1 (for them),” the minister said.
He said COVID-19 vaccine is being provided to beneficiaries prioritised by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) at private COVID-19 Vaccination Centres (CVCs) at a ceiling cost of Rs 250 per dose per person.
This includes Rs 150 towards cost of vaccine to be remitted to the government and Rs 100 for administration and service charges to be retained by the private CVC, he said.
Vardhan said records of earnings of private hospitals is not centrally maintained by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
“Since March 1, 2021 to March 21, 2021, a total of 62.43 lakh doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered at private CVCs. Presently, the COVID-19 vaccine administration at private CVCs has a ceiling cost of Rs 250 per dose per person,” he said.
The COVID-19 vaccination drive in India is going on for beneficiaries prioritised by the NEGVAC and they include healthcare workers, frontline workers, persons aged 60 years and above, and those aged 45-59 years with identified comorbidities, Vardhan said.
Unemployed ration card holders in any of the above mentioned prioritised groups can avail COVID-19 vaccine free of cost at government COVID-19 vaccination centres, he said.
“All people amongst the prioritised groups of beneficiaries recommended by NEGVAC can avail COVID-19 vaccine free of cost at government centres,” he said.