Bengal government to help private hospitals and diagnostic centres buy Covid-19 vaccines

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The Bengal government will help private hospitals and diagnostic centres to procure Covid vaccines by passing on their demands for doses to the manufacturers through the Centre, officials said.

The state government also requested private vaccination centres to implement the cap of Rs 150 over the procurement cost of each dose, announced by the Prime Minister, from Wednesday. 

State health department officials told private hospitals and smaller vaccination centres at a meeting on Wednesday that they could charge additional amounts for “value-added service” for off-site vaccination.   

Private hospitals were asked to submit their demands for vaccines to the state government from Wednesday. 

“We will compile the demands and give the combined list to the central government for placing orders with the manufacturers of Covishield, Covaxin and Sputnik V. Once the manufacturers confirm delivery, the vaccination centres will be asked to make payment,” said a health department official. “Details of the modalities of placing demand and receiving consignments will be finalised soon.”

Big hospital chains can continue to procure doses from the manufacturers centrally and then distribute them to the various units across the country, including in Bengal, the official said.

The government asked the private centres to place their demands for July and August. Many centres did so by Wednesday evening. 

A number of small nursing homes as well as big hospitals have been unable to get any vaccine since May 1, when a policy announced by the Centre requiring private hospitals to buy doses directly from the manufacturers came into effect. 

Before that the state government was supplying doses, from the consignment it was receiving from the Centre, to private centres.

“We had earlier proposed that the state government procure doses for us. But that was not possible then. This decision will help many small nursing homes and diagnostic centres. These centres place small orders, so they lose out to big units in the rush for vaccines,” said Rupak Barua, the president of the Association of Hospitals of Eastern India. 

The state government also requested private hospitals to charge not more than Rs 150 over the procurement price of each dose. The cap announced by the Centre will come into effect on June 21 but the state wants the private centres to implement it right away. 

A private centre can charge a maximum of Rs 780 for a Covishield dose and Rs 1,410 for a Covaxin dose. 

“We are implementing it from today,” said Pradip Tondon, the CEO of Belle Vue Clinic.

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