Private hospitals in Karnataka fret as expiry for 8 lakh unused vaccine doses looms | Bengaluru News – Times of India


BENGALURU: Over eight lakh doses of Covid vaccines are lying unused in about 2,400 private hospitals in Karnataka, and concerns are being raised as the date of expiry — late November — for most of these doses is fast approaching.
While private hospitals say the government must buy out vaccine stock — six lakh Covaxin, two lakh Covishield and 25,000 Sputnik — lying with them as the precious resource cannot be allowed to go waste, the Karnataka government wants the Centre to intervene and resolve the crisis. The state is planning to press for a national policy on procurement from hospitals.
Covaxin doses purchased in early June will expire in November. Some hospitals have redistributed the doses among smaller centres where they can be utilised. However, there have been no discussions between the government and private hospitals on redistributing stock.
A week ago, the health and family welfare department had sought data on unused doses with private hospitals and Dr HM Prasanna, president, Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (PHANA) said data collated by them showed there were over eight lakh shots. He said the government must act before the doses expire. But cost is the sticking point.
Officials say given that each dose of Covaxin costs Rs 1,250 and Covishield Rs 630, the government will have to spend huge sums to buy stock back. This can’t be done without a proper policy in place.
“The issue is not limited to Karnataka; all the states are facing it,” said P Ravikumar, chief secretary. “Private hospitals across India have millions of unused doses. It is important to utilise them before they expire. We will bring the issue to the notice of the Union government and seek directions.”
The demand for vaccines in private hospitals dropped sharply from July-August onwards, when the supply situation in government-run Covid vaccine centres stabilised. Vaccination is free in staterun centres and few are willing to pay the high cost — especially for Covaxin — in private hospitals.
“The highest demand for vaccines in private hospitals was from March to June when supply was slow and erratic,” said the owner of a private hospital. “We didn’t get supply when required. In May, when vaccination opened for 18-44 years, the demand was very high, but availability was low. The situation reversed from August onwards.”
A PHANA member said hospitals tied up with corporates and resident welfare associations to make the vaccines available to those willing to pay. Currently, private hospitals say, only those who opted for Covishield are now returning for the second dose.
D Randeep, commissioner, health and family welfare department, said that there is no decision on the issue yet. “We are ascertaining if the vaccines are nearing expiry so as to seek directions from the government,” he said.
Officials said a delegation led by health minister K Sudhakar is likely to visit Delhi and the state has sought an appointment with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday. While an appointment with the PM was not confirmed till late Tuesday evening, sources said that Sudhakar will stay back and campaign for the bypolls if no meeting with Modi is scheduled, and state officials will broach vaccination-related issues with central government officials.
PHANA members are hoping the demand for Covaxin peaks if and when the drug control general of India provides emergency approval for paediatric use
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Sagar Biswas

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