NEW DELHI: The Union Health Ministry has allowed KMSCL, a fully owned Kerala government company, to purchase 10 lakh Covishield doses from the 25 per cent quantity earmarked monthly for private hospitals with a rider they be administered only at private facilities, official sources said Monday.
Amid a rise in daily COVID-19 cases in the southern state, the Kerala Medical Services Corporation Ltd (KMSCL) approached the Serum Institute of India (SII) earlier this month to procure Covishield doses for vaccinating undergraduates and postgraduates in the state through the private sector.
Following this, SII's Government and Regulatory Affairs Director Prakash Kumar Singh sought an approval from the health ministry to fulfill the purchase order.
"Following a deliberation, the health ministry has decided to allow the purchase of the doses by KMSCL from the Serum Institute at the rate of Rs 630 per dose, from the 25 per cent of the monthly production earmarked for purchase by private hospitals," an official source said.
However, it has been communicated to the state that these doses should be administered at private hospitals only and recorded on the CoWIN portal, the source added.
Meanwhile, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya is visiting Kerala to review the COVID-19 situation in the southern state.
The Centre had earlier allowed states and private hospitals to procure 50 per cent of the vaccines following demands for a decentralisation of the process.
However, after several states complained of problems including that of funding, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the revision of the vaccine procurement guidelines on June 8.
Under the revised guidelines which came into effect from June 21, the Centre has started procuring 75 per cent of the vaccines being produced by the manufacturers in the country.
Domestic vaccine manufacturers are given the option to provide the rest 25 per cent of their monthly production to private hospitals.
The state is presently accounting for more than half of the nation's daily fresh infection caseload.
On Sunday, it reported 18,582 new COVID-19 cases while the overall number for the country was 32,937.
The state's positivity rate was an alarming 15.11 per cent on Sunday.
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, who arrived in Kerala with a central team on Monday to review the COVID-19 situation in the state, said the Centre has allocated Rs 267.35 crore to the state to strengthen its health infrastructure and will also provide it more vaccines to combat the pandemic.
In a tweet, subsequent to his "intensive" meeting with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and state Health Minister Veena George, Mandaviya said that besides the Rs 267.35 crore an additional Rs one crore would be made available to each district of Kerala for creating a medicine pool.
He also said that the central government has assured all possible help to Kerala, including providing vaccines to the state.
"Had an intensive meeting with the Chief Minister and Health Minister of Kerala, @VijayanPinarayi ji & Veena George ji, along with State officials to review COVID19 situation in Kerala."
"Central Govt allocates Rs 267.35 crore to Kerala under Emergency COVID Response Package- II. It will strengthen the state's health infrastructure & effectively manage COVID19. Additionally, Rs 1 crore will be made available to each district of Kerala for creating a medicine pool," he tweeted.
He also tweeted that the "Central Govt will ensure creation of a Center of Excellence that caters to Telemedicine Facilities in every district in Kerala. For prioritising the health of children, paediatric ICU to be established in district hospitals with a 10 kilo-litre liquid oxygen storage tank facility."
Earlier, the Kerala state Public Relations Department (PRD) said that Mandaviya has lauded lauded the coronavirus prevention steps taken by the state government.
He also termed the healthcare system here as "excellent" and assured availability of more vaccines for Kerala, and praised the lack of vaccine wastage by the state by saying that it has set an example with regard to administration of doses, the PRD said.
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan also said that Kerala was ahead of the national average in vaccination and the death rate here was low, the PRD said.
Mandaviya and the central team visited Kerala at a time when it was accounting for more than half of the nation's daily fresh infection caseload.
Kerala on Sunday reported 18,582 new COVID-19 cases, which was more than half of the national total of 32,937 fresh coronavirus cases.
On Sunday, the Test Positivity Rate was 15.11 per cent in the state.