Hospitals have attempted to put their best foot forward in accepting the Government’s price-cap on Covid-19 vaccines. The challenge, though, could emerge in handling side-effects or complications that arise after the vaccination, say doctors and industry insiders. The Government had capped the price at ₹250, which included ₹150 for the vaccine and ₹100 to the hospital for administration.

Raman Bhaskar, Hospital Director at HCMCT - Manipal Hospitals, said that hospitals were going with the price-cap as it was a “pandemic service”. The challenge could emerge if a patient has a reaction that the individual believes is linked to the vaccination and requires hospitalisation. Protocols have been laid out and hospitals have been asked to connect with a nodal officer who would then direct the person with the reaction to a nodal hospital, Bhaskar told BusinessLine . The challenge emerges given the vulnerable population and elderly that are being vaccinated and when the number begins to increase, he said.

Under the present system, the supplies are controlled and monitored, with hospitals procuring the vaccines from the Government and not directly from the vaccine companies. Across the country, hospital top-brass were seen to be accepting of the price-cap, bracing for the challenges that unfold in the event of vaccine-linked reactions.

Marginal profits

Dr Adbul Ghafur, infectious diseases consultant with Apollo Cancer Institute, was optimistic that systems were in place across the country to vaccinate and observe people thereafter. On the price-caps, he said, it would have come about only after discussion. Private vaccine companies would be able to get marginal profits, he added. For those seeking free vaccines, there are Government centres.

On the vaccine companies side, Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech, whose vaccines are being rolled out, have maintained a studied public silence on pricing.