BENGALURU: Private hospitals are not keen on purchasing ZyCoV-D, Zydus Cadila’s Covid-19 vaccine, for multiple reasons. This DNA vaccine received emergency use authorisation from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) on August 20, but has not taken off, primarily due to two factors — price negotiations between the government and manufacturers, and lack of vaccine applicators.
Smaller private hospitals say they are flush with stocks of Covaxin and Covishield. “We are hesitant as we already have extra stock of Covaxin which will expire soon, and also have 1,000 doses of Covishield. Many hospitals may not get involved as ZyCoV-D is rumoured to be expensive, with three doses said to cost Rs 1,900. This may result in losses for us as the government is encouraging us to buy on one hand, and offering vaccines for free on the other.
As the government is purchasing from vaccine manufacturers at a low rate, they are compensating by charging private hospitals a higher tariff,” said Dr R Ravindra, Medical Director of Suguna Hospital, and past president of Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association.
The pricing will be challenged if rates are expensive, said Karthik Shekhar, coordinator of RMV Hospital. If hospitals collect stocks and no one comes forward to take it, owing to the cost factor or the fact that it involves three doses, it will be a problem for the hospital, he said. He concurred that hospitals already have huge stocks of vaccines piled up.
“We need clarity on the 75:25 vaccine distribution policy of the Centre, and also the ID proof required of children who want to take ZyCoV-D,” Shekhar added. Some believe it is only a matter of time before acceptance and demand around this new vaccine builds. The fact that it is a needle-free applicator could be attractive to beneficiaries, said Dr Naveen Thomas, Director (CEO), Bangalore Baptist Hospital.
“Community awareness will be a challenge but acceptance can be built. If demand is high, we have no problem partnering with the government. It is also the first-of-its-kind DNA vaccine, which is path-breaking. We will be happy to partner to improve vaccine coverage against Covid-19,” Dr Thomas said.
This vaccine has also been approved for children aged between 12 and 17.