Delhi’s first drive through vaccination centre shuts: ‘Financially unviable’

Delhi’s first drive-through vaccination centre has shut shop after two weeks of functioning, stating that the operation became ‘non-viable’ after the Centre capped vaccine rates for private hospitals.

The first drive-through vaccination centre in the city, organised by Aakash Healthcare Super Speciality Hospital, had been inaugurated by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal at Vegas Mall, Dwarka, on May 26. The shots at the centre had initially been priced at Rs 1,400 per dose of Covishield. According to hospital officials, approximately 10,000 people have been vaccinated there.

“Delhi’s First Drive Thru, a highly safe, convenient way for public, which we ran non-stop for 15 days, we have decided to stop now, owing to new vaccination pricing, as running it has become unviable now,” read a statement by the hospital issued on Friday.

In a letter to all states and union territories on Tuesday, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had capped the maximum service charge per dose levied by private hospitals at Rs 150 per dose. This means that after accounting for the decrease in the price at which vaccines can now be sold by manufacturers to private hospitals, the maximum that can be charged at a private Covid vaccination centre is Rs 780 for Covishield, Rs 1,410 for Covaxin, and Rs 1,145 for Sputnik V.

Drive-through vaccination centres and camps had been offering some of the most expensive vaccine shots in Delhi.

A spokesperson at a hospital which has been conducting short-term Covid vaccination camps in the city stated that they are unlikely to conduct such camps in the future as the service charge is too low to cover the collateral costs of organising them.

Fortis Healthcare had also been conducting drive-through camps spanning one or two days. The group had earlier shared a statement saying, “Unfortunately, the cap of service charge at Rs 150 will not cover additional costs incurred for such offsite vaccination camps which involve substantial costs like ambulance, transport, extra staff and doctor, plus TDS involved in many cases. We urge the government to consider a higher charge for off-site vaccination camps to enable expanded coverage.”

Apart from Aakash Healthcare, the other ‘permanent’ drive-through centre had been set up by Moolchand Hospital on their premises, where Covaxin shots had initially been priced at Rs 1,800 per dose. A senior administrator said this too is likely to discontinue soon “as we are running out of our stock”.

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