Dr G Srinivas Rao in a blue shirt addressing the media
Dr G Srinivas Rao in a blue shirt addressing the media

‘Will states be reimbursed for money paid to vaccine companies?’: Telangana DPH to TNM

Though Dr G Srinivas Rao welcomed the new policy announced by the Union Government, he felt that until vaccines are adequately available, the announcement is unlikely to make a difference.

Telangana’s Director of Public Health and Family Welfare Dr G Srinivas Rao has welcomed the change in the Union Government’s vaccine policy announced on Monday evening by Prime Minister Modi. However, Dr Rao has raised few reservations about the practicality of the announcement.    

Speaking to TNM, Dr Rao said, “The development about people going to be given vaccines free of cost is welcome news. But at the same time, there are several intricate issues. The important question is where will they get the vaccines from? When you don’t have vaccines in hand, how will it be given free of cost to the people? I don’t want to get into the political aspect of it, I assume that the Union Government must have already tied up with some countries, or maybe with some other countries as there are vaccines available outside the country. It seems like the Supreme Court’s observations have made them take this new decision. Ultimately tomorrow they will say the vaccines will be free, as and when it is available.”

The Director felt there is a need to revise and review the Union Government’s vaccine strategy. He felt what the country needs is a strategy of vaccinating those more exposed. Telangana is presently vaccinating those who the state has identified as ‘super spreaders’. Vegetable vendors, LPG delivery personnel, liquor shop employees, saloon employees, small shop owners, meat shop workers etc constitute those eligible in this category. The Director felt, instead of declaring an age group, based on exposure it is necessary to open up vaccination.  

Dr Srinivas also raised the issue about reimbursement of the money paid to vaccine companies by states. “There is no clarity about whether the government of India will reimburse or will the companies reimburse the money paid by states to the companies when the order for the vaccines was placed. Telangana had paid Rs 42 crore to Bharat Biotech when an order was placed for 10 lakh doses of vaccine. So far, only 2.5 lakh doses have been supplied by the company. Two weeks back Telangana transferred money to Serum Institute of India. An amount of Rs 8.3 crore was paid to them and we haven’t received a single dose as yet. Who is going to return the money?” asked the Director of Public Health.

Telangana had invited global tenders on May 18 and was hoping to procure 10 million doses of vaccine. Addressing the media earlier, Dr Srinivas had mentioned that negotiations are underway with AstraZeneca and SputnikV manufacturers.

However, the negotiations did not yield any fruit as the invitations failed to evoke a positive response. When asked what was the reason why the negotiations did not yield a positive response, Dr G Srinivas said, “It isn’t only Telangana, even other states have not received any positive response from the companies. Those who want to participate in the global tender process should also have vaccines, right?”

When asked about vaccination of those in refugee settlements in the outskirts of Hyderabad as well as the poor who don’t have ID cards, the Director of Public Health said, “We will be concentrating on vaccinating them soon in the next phase. Everyone with or without an ID card will be vaccinated in the state. It is a matter of safety of the country and the people.”    

The News Minute