Congress slams the Central Government for “profiteering” amid a row over vaccine prices. Party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said the center had “abandoned” India’s young – those between 18 and 45, who can get vaccinated from May 1- by asking them to pay more per dose than those older had; people over 45 were vaccinated either for free or at nominal prices. INC Congress announced they will provide free vaccination for all in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Punjab.
Gaurav Pandhi Congress leader said, “Access to vaccines is a fundamental right and citizens should not have to pay for it. It’s the Govt’s duty to ensure everyone gets vaccinated at no cost. That’s exactly how we defeated polio. Right?” INC Congress announced they will provide free vaccination for all in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Punjab.
Congress will provide free vaccination for all in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh & Punjab.
Access to vaccine is fundamental right and citizens should not have to pay for it. It's the Govt's duty to ensure everyone gets vaccinated at no cost. That's exactly how we defeated polio. Right?
— Gaurav Pandhi (@GauravPandhi) April 25, 2021
The Congress on Sunday accused the center of “profiteering of ₹ 1,11,100 crore” in the middle of a pandemic and criticized the BJP government for its “discriminatory and insensitive vaccination policy”, underlining tension over manufacturers charging up to 700 percent more per dose in the open market.
“Modi government’s vaccination policy has deregulated 50 per cent production of the two vaccine manufacturers – Serum Institute (Covishield) and Bharat Biotech (Covaxin) – as free from price regulation… to fix the prices for supply to states and private institutions,” the Congress said.
“The two have now released an absolutely discriminatory pricing policy…” the party said.
Several states – many of which are not governed by the ruling BJP – have now said the vaccines will be available to all free of cost; this list of states includes Maharashtra, Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Punjab.
Vaccine Profiteering must end!
One Nation, Five Vaccine Prices is unacceptable!!
Randeep Singh Surjewala said on April 25, 2021, “This week both Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech announced the prices of their Covid vaccine on the open market. SII’s Covishield will cost states ₹ 400 per dose and private hospitals ₹ 600. Covaxin will cost ₹ 600 per dose for state governments and double that – ₹ 1,200 – for hospitals.
Both will continue to sell 50 percent of their output to the center at ₹ 150 per dose. The centre has said it will make its share of vaccines available for free but has not commented on the higher prices.
For an individual to get the recommended two doses it could, therefore, cost as much as ₹ 2,400.
The pricing – part of the centre’s new “liberalised” vaccination policy – has attracted criticism from opposition parties, who have reminded the centre of it’s “one nation, one price” war cry.
The Congress showed its calculations of “profit of the two manufacturers”, based on the need to vaccinate 101 crore people – the total number of Indians below the age of 45 and said, “…we need 202 crore doses… assuming states will provide 50 percent of vaccines and individuals will bear 50 percent of the cost, profit to SII and Bharat Biotech will be ₹ 1,11,100 crore,” the party said.
Faced with criticism over its pricing decision, the Serum Institute on Saturday released a statement flagging “inaccurate comparisons between the global prices of the vaccine with India”.
To date, there are 138 million vaccine doses given, 21.4 million full vaccinated, and 1.6% of the population has been vaccinated, still, a long way to go.
Vaccination costs are exorbitantly high, running from Rs. 600 per vaccine up to 1200 in private hospitals. The Health Ministry clarified on Saturday that its procurement price for the vaccines — Covaxin and Covishield — remains same at Rs 150 per dose, and it will continue to provide for free to states. “It is clarified that Govt of India’s procurement price for both #COVID19 vaccines remains Rs 150 per dose. However, on the ground, the prices are far higher.
In the meantime, COVID cases are soaring dangerously in India and Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding epidemiologist and health economist and a Senior Fellow at the Federation of American Scientists in Washington DC spoke to India Today and surmised that India would reach its peak of COVID in the beginning of May, while expected COVID to quieten down by the mid of May
He estimated that a frightening number of million lives would be lost by August, and the total number of deaths estimated would reach 5 million by August.
When asked how could India control and prevent such a catastrophe from happening, he said that the government should be open about reporting information correctly so that COVID can be properly assessed and prevented from rises, curfews need to be maintained strictly and the government has to supply free aid to the people so that no one will starve. He also said the government should not do anymore political rallies and stop all big gatherings. It is critical to get the truth at all times to fight the pandemic.
Congress governments in Rajasthan, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and other governments such as Maharashtra and Bengal are giving free vaccines would also ensure that the masses would receive their vaccines, help the underprivileged and general public to curb the virus from spreading. It is hoped that the gloomy predictions by Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding of one million deaths to total an approximate overall five million deaths will be averted because of the vaccination drive along with curfews and containment and strictly adhering to COVID protocols, which unfortunately is not followed fully as of yet.