21% Indians currently plan to take their COVID-19 vaccine at a private hospital; Number could double basis how it goes in the coming weeks
- ● 63% of those planning to take the COVID-19 vaccine at a private hospital do not want to pay more than INR 600 in total charges for the vaccine i.e. two doses
February 27, 2021, New Delhi: In a move that is expected to exceedingly amplify the COVID-19 vaccination drive in India, the Government of India has decided to allow close to 24000 private hospitals across the country to start inoculation of Covishield and Covaxin vaccines in the next round of vaccination programme come March 1st 2021. In the upcoming round, citizens above 60 years of age, and people above 45 years of age with co-morbidities will be eligible for the vaccination. The Government is said to be currently holding rounds of talks with the country’s private health sector to decide on a formulation of a concreate plan that will include the cost of COVID-19 vaccination from a private hospital, including a training module for vaccinators. Meanwhile, Government hospitals will continue the vaccination at no cost to citizens.
Emergency use authorisation of two COVID-19 vaccines in India was given to Covishield developed by researchers at the Oxford University and the British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca, and is being manufactured in the country by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India's (SII) Covishield; and another to a Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech International Ltd's Covaxin. SII said that they would be supplying 1.1 crore doses to the Central Government at a fixed price of INR 200 per dose. Similarly, the Government procured the first 55 lakh doses of Covaxin at the cost of INR 206 per dose from Biotech. Over 1.25 crore or 12.5 million citizens have received the first dose while over 20 lakh or 2 million citizens have received the second dose. Frontline workers and healthcare workers were the first to receive COVID-19 jabs.
Taking cognizance from the recent development of permitting private hospitals to vaccinate senior citizens over 60 years and those with co-morbidities above 45 years, LocalCircles has conducted a survey to understand the percentage of people that would prefer getting the vaccine at a private hospital on payment basis and what is the maximum price citizens are willing to pay. It must be noted that a MRP cannot be published till market use authorisation is not issued for these vaccines. The survey received more that 16,000 responses from people located in 266 districts of India.
21% Indians likely to take their vaccine on payment basis at a private hospital
The last LocalCircles vaccine hesitancy survey released on February 19th 2021, indicated a 20% drop in vaccine hesitancy within a month with 50% now willing to take the vaccine. Now with the Government’s announcement to permitting private hospitals to administer the COVID-19 vaccine, the poll sought to understand citizens’ pulse on how they will go about vaccinating their family members who qualify for the next phase. These will be anyone above the age of 60 or anyone with co-morbidities and above the age of 45. The majority of 35% of citizens said they “will be taking the vaccine at a government center”, while 21% said they “will be taking it through a private hospital”. There were also 27% of citizens who said they “will take but not sure how”. Further breaking down the poll, it has been learnt that 5% of citizens “have already taken the vaccine”, while 6% of citizens said “can’t say”, and another 6% said they “do not have any member of the family meets the above criteria”. So in summary, 21% citizens are likely to have their family members taking the vaccine at a private hospital on payment basis. Also, its noteworthy that another 27% citizens plan to take the vaccine but are currently unsure about whether they will go to a private hospital or a government center. This indicates that if the private hospital vaccination drive takes off, many more could opt for it given a better experience. It is noteworthy that 75% of outpatient care in India and 55% of inpatient care in India is provided by the private healthcare sector. Though here the vaccine at a government center will be free, there is a general preference for private healthcare in India.
21% citizens in the next phase of COVID-19 vaccination plan to take the vaccine at a private hospital
63% of those planning to take the COVID-19 vaccine in the next phase at a private hospital will not pay more than INR 600 in total charges (two vaccine doses)
It should be noted that the Government has decided to avail of COVID-19 vaccines for citizens at 10,000 government centers free of cost. The Government is said to be holding meetings with private hospitals to decide on the final price of vaccine at which it can be availed at private hospitals. It is likely that the price will include charges such as nurse fee, administration fee, miscellaneous cost, besides manufacturing cost. This next poll tried to understand the tentative perception as to how much are people willing to pay for two doses if any of their family members is eligible for the vaccine in this next phase. In response, 17% said “up to INR 200”, 22% said “up to INR 300”, 24% said “up to INR 600”, 16% said “up to INR 1000”, and 6% said “above INR 1000”, while 15% couldn’t say. The findings of the poll suggests that 63% of those planning to take the COVID-19 vaccine in the next phase at a private hospital will not pay more than INR 600 in total charges for two doses. This indicates that the Government must make all attempts to ensure that the private hospitals get the vaccine at the lowest cost possible so they can deliver within this budget specified by the majority of citizens.
63% of those planning to take the COVID-19 vaccine in the next phase at a private hospital will not pay more than INR 600 in total charges (two doses)
In summary, the survey results indicate that at this time 21% citizens are ready to have their qualifying family members get the vaccine at a private hospital on payment basis and depending on how private hospital vaccination drive progresses, another 27% who are currently undecided may opt to getting the vaccine via this channel. Of the base that is looking at getting vaccinated at a private hospital 63% of them are willing to pay INR 600 or less for the vaccine (two doses) thereby defining a constraint for the Government as it negotiates final pricing with vaccine makers and private hospitals. How such an MRP will be defined without a market use authorisation in place is something the Government will have to sort. In addition to pricing, of great concern to many citizens is the issue of steps that are being undertaken to minimize vaccine black marketing, wastage and hospital management and doctor discretion on who gets the vaccine first.
16,000+ responses were received from citizens residing in 266 districts of India. 65% respondents were men while 35% respondents were women. 49% respondents were from tier 1, 28% from tier 2 and 23% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts. They survey was conducted via LocalCircles platform and all participants are validated citizens who had to be registered with LocalCircles to participate in this survey.