“One Nation, One Party’, Why Not One Vaccine Price?” Opposition Attacks

Till now, the central government had been supplying vaccines to states free of cost. (File)

New Delhi:

Vaccination is expected to become costlier from May 1 and several political parties have questioned the government’s new policy liberalising vaccine sales and deregulating prices.

Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the government must fix one price for vaccines.

“One nation, one party, one leader shouts BJP all the time but to save lives they can’t have one price for vaccine. Every Indian needs free vaccine, regardless of age, caste, creed, location. GoI must fix ONE price for Covid vaccine irrespective of who pays – Centre or the States,” she tweeted.

In the new policy, vaccine makers will assign 50 per cent of the shots to the Centre and the remaining will be for states and private entities. Only, state governments and private hospitals will have to buy directly from manufacturers at a higher cost.

Yesterday, the Serum Institute of India (SII) said its Covishield shot would be sold at Rs 400 to states and at Rs 600 to private hospitals.

The centre will continue to get vaccines at subsidized prices; Covishield is sold at Rs 150 a dose and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin at Rs 206. Till now, the central government had been supplying vaccines to states free of cost.

Russia’s Sputnik V will also be used in India in the next few months.

Sputnik V’s maker Dr Reddy’s said the upper limit would be $10 a shot (Rs 750) – the global price – but has since clarified that discussions are still on.

“This means that citizens will be compelled to pay these high rates to be vaccinated. This will also bleed the finances of State Governments,” Congress president Sonia Gandhi said in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, calling it “surprising” that despite the harsh lessons of last year, the government continues to follow an “arbitrary and discriminatory policy”.

She questioned how the same vaccine manufactured by the same company could have three different prices.

“At a time when medical resources are scarce, hospital beds are unavailable, oxygen supply and availability of essential medicine is dwindling rapidly, why is your government allowing a policy that reeks of such insensitivity. Even with regards to the fifty percent quota for vaccination available with the Central Government, the allocation must be transparent and equitable, in line with the spirit of cooperative federalism,” Sonia Gandhi wrote.

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