No, All 100 Crore COVID-19 Vaccine Doses Weren't Given For Free in India
PM Modi addressed the nation a day after crossing milestone 100 crore vaccinations and claimed that all doses were given for free
While addressing the nation on crossing the 100 crore COVID-19 vaccine administration landmark on October 22, 2021, Prime Minister Narendra claimed that his government administered 100 crore doses free of cost to the citizens of the country.
"Bharat ne apni nagrikon ko 100 crore vaccine dose lagai hain, aur woh bhi muft, bina paise liye (India has not only administered 100 crore vaccine doses to its citizens but has also done that free of cost)," Modi said at 4:45 minute timestamp in the video below.
However, this is not the first time such a claim has been made. Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare Mansukh Mandaviya had made a similar claim of "Sabko Vaccine, Muft Vaccine (Free Vaccine for all)" while wishing PM Modi on his birthday on September 17, 2021. This was the same day when India administered 2.28 crore vaccines — the highest ever till date.
'सबको वैक्सीन, मुफ़्त वैक्सीन' की PM @NarendraModi जी ने देश को सौग़ात दी है!— Dr Mansukh Mandaviya (@mansukhmandviya) September 16, 2021
कल हम सबके प्रिय प्रधानमंत्री जी का जन्मदिन है, चलो #VaccineSeva कर जिन्होंने वैक्सीन नहीं ली है, ऐसे अपनों को, परिजनों को और समाज के सभी तबकों को टीका लगवाकर, उनको जन्मदिन का उपहार देते हैं।
With the administration of more than 61.2 lakh vaccine doses in the last 24 hours, India crossed the one billion COVID-19 vaccine doses mark on October 21, 2021, said the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare's (MoHFW).
Is Vaccine Free for All?
The Prime Minister's claim is misleading. Although absolute official numbers of total vaccines administered by public and private sectors have not been released yet, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, on September 23, 2021, had said that 6% of the COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered in private health centres between May 1 and September 22, 2021.
"From May 1 - September 22, roughly 6% of doses have been administered in private hospitals and the remaining percentage of doses have been administered in public health facilities," said Bhushan during the press briefing.
Initially, the MoHFW had said that the Centre would procure 50% of the vaccines and that the remaining half would be distributed between states, Union Territories and private players. Later, on May 31, 2021, the Supreme Court said the paid vaccination policy or the Liberalized Vaccine Policy for the 18-44 age group is "arbitrary and irrational". The SC's observation was made days after it said that vaccine prices should be uniform across the country. Soon after, in a similar address to the nation on June 7, 2021, the Prime Minister said the Centre will buy 75% of doses from vaccine manufacturers, including 25% of the state quota and give it for free to state governments. However, he also said that private sector hospitals could continue to procure 25% of vaccines with the price capped at Rs 150 per dose.
Further, in a July 1, 2021 press release by MoHFW, "All citizens irrespective of their income status are entitled to free vaccination by the Government of India and those who have the ability to pay are encouraged to use private hospitals' vaccination centres… Further, the private hospitals can charge up to a maximum of Rs. 150 per dose as service charges," read the press release.
Currently, there are 91,055 sites conducting COVID-19 vaccinations, shows the COWIN dashboard. Of these, 88,462 or 97% are government health centres, while 2,593 or 2.8% are private health centres. Also, the Centre fixed charges for the three vaccines in private hospitals at Rs 780 for Covisheild, Rs 1,410 for Covaxin and Rs 1,145 for Sputnik.
FactChecker tried contacting the Prime Minister's office and the Additional Director General (Media & Communications) of MoHFW, Dr Manisha Verma for a comment via email, but had not received a response by the time of publishing. If and when we do, it will be added here.