Opposition unites against differential vaccine pricing for states, Centre

The Serum Institute said its Covishield jabs will be available for states at the rate of Rs 400 a dose, for private hospitals @Rs 600 and for Centre @Rs 150

Covishield
Representative photo

After Centre said COVID vaccines can be brought directly from manufacturers, Serum Institute gave out separate price lists for states and Centre, which has united the opposition against “injustice” meted out to cash-strapped state governments.

The Congress and Communist parties on Wednesday (April 21) demanded uniform pricing for the Centre as well as states.

The Serum Institute of India (SII), which manufactures a vaccine under the name Covishield, recently issued a press release declaring prices for the COVID-19 vaccine doses.

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Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted Serum’s release, which says that Covishield would be available for state governments for Rs 400 per dose and to private hospitals at Rs 600 per dose. It said that the company’s contract with Centre remains unchanged, which means the Union government will continue to get Covishield doses at Rs 150 each.

Gandhi said it was an “opportunity for the friends of PM Modi and injustice by the central government.”

Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted: Modi Govt’s new ‘CRONY BONANZA’ Scheme to Make Money out of People’s Misery!

Also read: Explainer: Why India’s COVID vaccine production could be slowing down

Another Congress leader, Jairam Ramesh, said the pricing policy would “bleed dry the already reeling state finances” and asked for one nation, one price policy.

Communist Party of India-Marxist General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said that vaccines should be distributed in a “transparent equitable manner”.

Yechury said, “The Centre must buy vaccines and distribute in a transparent equitable manner free to States. PM must spend the lakhs of crores of rupees hoarded in PM Cares for this. For 70 years India always had a free universal vaccination programme.”

As per the Centre’s new policy, states can procure COVID-19 vaccine doses directly from the manufacturers, who can also sell their doses to private players like hospitals. The Centre has mandated both the vaccine makers to sell the jabs at pre-declared prices.

Also read: ‘More testing, increasing vaccine output key to fighting COVID wave’

Meanwhile, the Centre will continue to get the doses at the existing rate (Rs 150 per dose). Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday that the Centre’s vaccination drive would continue to remain free of cost for the eligible candidates.

Right now, the vaccination campaign is open for people who are above 45 years of age. However, the Centre has opened vaccination for all above 18 years of age, starting May 1.

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