The Central government on Monday announced that coronavirus vaccine would be made available for all above the age of 18 from 1 May.

While announcing a “liberalised and accelerated phase 3 strategy of Covid-19 vaccination from 1 May’, the Centre stated that the pricing, procurement, eligibility and administration of coronavirus vaccines will be made flexible in phase 3 of the vaccination drive.

This comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a series of meetings over India’s response to record daily surges in Covid-19 cases.

 Under the third phase of the vaccination drive commencing next month, the vaccine manufacturers would supply 50% of their monthly Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL) released doses to the Central government and would be free to supply the remaining 50% doses to state governments and in the open market.

Manufacturers would have to make an advance declaration of the price for 50% supply that would be available to the state governments and in the open market before 1 May. Based on this price, state governments, private hospitals, industrial establishments, etc. would be able to procure vaccine doses from the manufacturers.

Private hospitals would have to procure their supplies of Covid-19 vaccine exclusively from the 50% supply earmarked for entities other than those coming through the Central government channel.

Centre, from its share, will allocate vaccines to States/ UTs based on the criteria of extent of infection (number of active Covid cases) and performance (speed of administration). Wastage of vaccines will also be considered in this criteria and will affect the criteria negatively. Based on the above criteria, state-wise quota would be decided and communicated to the states adequately in advance.

Currently, three vaccine candidates have been given Emergency Use Authorisation in India: two indigenously manufactured vaccines (Serum Institute of India’s Covishield developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin), and a third vaccine (Sputnik V), presently manufactured abroad but which will eventually be manufactured in India.

During the meetings held by PM Modi, he had said that the government has been working hard from over a year to ensure that maximum numbers of Indians are able to get the vaccine in the shortest possible of time. He added that India is vaccinating people at world record pace and “we will continue this with even greater momentum”.

“Last year, during the same time, it was due to our doctors’ hard work and the nation’s strategy that we were able to control the coronavirus wave,” PM Modi said while addressing doctors via video conferencing. “Now that the country is facing the second wave of coronavirus, all the doctors, our frontline workers are confronting the pandemic with full force, and are saving the lives of millions of people,” he added.

In recent weeks, states like Maharashtra, Delhi and Punjab had called for opening up vaccinations and had complained about running out of vaccine stocks.

While vaccinations have been slow compared to the Central government targets, the country has clocked over two-and-a-half lakh cases daily in the past few days.