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Vaccination for all in Bengal from May 5, Rs 100 crore set aside for purchase: CM Mamata Banerjee

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Vaccination for all citizens above 18 years will kick off in Bengal on May 5, three days after the election results are declared, CM Mamata Banerjee announced on Wednesday. The Centre had on Monday announced the widening of the inoculation ambit to cover all adults from May 1.

“Universal vaccination will start in the state from May 5 for those aged 18 years and above. We have allocated Rs 100 crore for the purchase of Covid vaccines from the market,” Banerjee announced during a media interaction in Malda.
The amount allocated will allow the state to buy 25 lakh doses of Covishield at the price announced by the Serum Institute of India on Wednesday. While SII has fixed the sale price to state governments at Rs 400, private hospitals will have to purchase the vaccine at Rs 600 per dose.

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The CM questioned the difference in the price at which the Centre had purchased the vaccines — Rs 150 per dose — and the price that one of the manufacturers had quoted for sale to the states.
Vaccines purchased by the Centre are being administered free at government-run vaccination centres and costs Rs 250 per dose in private hospitals.
“There is a price anomaly. If the Centre gets a dose of the vaccine at Rs 150, why would the state pay Rs 400 for the same? Why is this discrimination? Don’t do business when people are facing a calamity. This is not acceptable. I will write to the PM for removal of such price anomaly,” the CM said.

Till date all states have been getting their share of vaccines free from the pool procured directly by the central government. The Bengal CM had been asking the Centre to allow the state to procure the vaccines directly as it wants to vaccinate its entire population free of cost.

“So far 93 lakh people in Bengal have been vaccinated. We immediately need 1 crore more vaccine doses from the Centre. We will buy some vaccines to plug the demand-supply gap,” the CM said.

The state had scaled up its inoculation capacity to vaccinate over 4 lakh people a day on a number of occasions. The drive, however, has hit a bump in the past couple of weeks due to inadequate supply of vaccine, leading to the scaling down of the target.

Private hospitals said on Wednesday they are awaiting further clarity on the issue before they go ahead with their procurement plans.

“There is already a discussion among all the 28 Fortis hospitals across the country. But different state governments may have different guidelines or protocols. We need to wait for these,” said Richa Debgupta senior vice president Fortis Hospitals.

Simmardeep Gill COO CK Birla Hospitals CMRI said that they will also wait for a more clarity on how to go about procuring the vials on their own.

“We can start procuring our stock once we get a clear guideline from the authorities concerned,” said Alok Roy chairman Medica Group of Hospitals.

Source: Times of India

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