India on Monday administered a record 82.7 lakh COVID-19 vaccine doses on day one of the country's new inoculation strategy in which the Central Government provided free vaccines against COVID-19 to adults across states.
It is the highest number of doses administered in a day since the vaccination drive started on 16 January.
This comes on a day when India logged 53,256 new coronavirus infections, the lowest in 88 days, taking the total tally of COVID-19 cases to 2,99,35,221. The COVID-19 toll mounted to 3,88,135 with 1,422 fresh fatalities, the lowest in 65 days, according to the Union health ministry's morning update.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today's record-breaking vaccination numbers are "gladdening."
"Central Government is beginning the 'Free Vaccination For All campaign' for every Indian from today. The biggest beneficiary of this phase of India's vaccination drive shall be the poor, the middle class, and the youth of the country. All of us should pledge to get ourselves vaccinated. Together we will defeat COVID-19," Modi said.
As per the Union health ministry, five BJP-ruled states such as Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, and Haryana took a lead by conducting special vaccination drives, reports News18.
During May, more than 7.9 crore vaccines were available for the inoculation drive. As per the Centre, these were ramped up to 11.78 crore in June. These include the free supply of vaccines to States and UTs from the Government of India, those directly procured by the States/UTs, and those directly procured by private hospitals.
Earlier in June, Modi announced that the Centre will take over from states, which were supposed to be carrying out about 25 percent of the country's vaccination drive, and continue with its ongoing efforts to inoculate the section of the population that is above 45 years of age, healthcare and frontline workers.
The Centre's new policy came days after Supreme Court slammed the ongoing vaccination drive for the 18-44 age group and called it "arbitrary and irrational."
State-wise numbers today
Madhya Pradesh administered the highest number of vaccines today with 15,42,632 jabs, followed by Karnataka with 10,67,734, Uttar Pradesh with 6,74,546.
With over 15 lakh jabs administered today, Madhya Pradesh recorded vaccinations almost two and a half times more than Uttar Pradesh.
However, Opposition-ruled states such as Punjab, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Delhi were not able to cross even one lakh vaccinations today.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Dadra and Nagar Haveli
Jammu and Kashmir
Daman and Diu
What were the previous guidelines?
According to the revised guidelines, vaccine doses provided free of cost by the Centre will be allocated to states and UTs based on criteria such as population, disease burden and the progress of vaccination, and all above the age of 18 will be eligible for the free jabs.
Any wastage of vaccine will affect the allocation negatively, they said. The Centre will now procure 75 percent of the vaccines being produced by the manufacturers in the country.
It had earlier allowed states and private hospitals to procure 50 percent of the vaccines following demands for decentralisation of the process. However, after several states complained of problems including funding, Prime Minister Modi announced the revision of the vaccine guidelines on 8 June.
In order to incentivise production by vaccine manufacturers and encourage new vaccines, domestic vaccine manufacturers are given the option to also provide vaccines directly to private hospitals. This would be restricted to 25 percent of their monthly production, the new guidelines stated.
Within the population group of citizens more than 18 years of age, states and UTs may decide their own prioritisation factoring in the vaccine supply schedule, the revised guidelines issued by the health ministry stated.
The states and UTs would aggregate the demand of private hospitals keeping in view equitable distribution between large and small private hospitals and regional balance, they said.
"Based on this aggregated demand, the Government of India will facilitate the supply of these vaccines to the private hospitals and their payment through the National Health Authority's electronic platform.
This would enable the smaller and remoter private hospitals to obtain a timely supply of vaccines, and further equitable access and regional balance," the ministry said.
The price of vaccine doses for private hospitals would be declared by each vaccine manufacturer, and any subsequent changes would be notified in advance.
The private hospitals may charge up to a maximum of Rs 150 per dose as service charges. State Governments may monitor the price being so charged, the guidelines said.
All citizens irrespective of their income status are entitled to free vaccination. Those who have the ability to pay are encouraged to use private hospital's vaccination centres, the guidelines said.
"To promote the spirit of 'Lok Kalyan' (public good), use of non-transferable Electronic Vouchers, which can be redeemed at private vaccination centers, will be encouraged.
"This would enable people to financially support vaccination of Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) at private vaccination centres," the revised guidelines said.
India's vaccination drive began on 16 January
The COVID vaccination in the country commenced with the vaccination for all healthcare workers from 16 January. The programme was expanded with time to include vaccination of frontline workers, citizens more than 60 years of age, citizens more than 45 years of age and eventually citizens more than 18 years of age.
Under the National COVID Vaccination Program, from 16 January to 30 April, 100 percent of vaccine doses were procured by the Government of India and provided free of cost to state governments. State Governments were, in turn, asked to administer vaccination free of cost to defined priority groups.
To increase the pace of vaccination, participation of private hospitals was also enlisted where individuals could also choose to get vaccinated at a prescribed rate, the ministry said.
In response to the suggestions of many state governments to be permitted the flexibility to procure vaccines directly and administer them as per their own prioritisation based on local requirements.
From 1 May, the Centre was procuring 50 percent of the vaccine produced and was continuing to provide them to states free of cost for administering to priority groups.
The state government and private hospitals were now also empowered to directly procure from the remaining 50 percent vaccine pool.
"Many states have, however, had communicated that they are facing difficulties in managing the funding, procurement, and logistics of vaccines, impacting the pace of the National COVID Vaccination Program.
"Also it was noted that smaller and remoter private hospitals were also facing constraints.
"Keeping in view these aspects and the repeated requests received from states, the Guidelines for National COVID Vaccination Program were reviewed and revised and new guidelines were issued on 8 June," the ministry said.
With inputs from PTI