Today News Online Service
New Delhi, April 22
Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Thursday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding the reversal of the vaccine pricing policy and said there could not be different prices for state governments, private hospitals and the Centre.
Gandhi asked the PM how the government could allow a policy that “reeked of insensitivity”.
“It is surprising that despite the harsh lessons of last year and the pain inflicted on our citizens, the Government continues to follow an arbitrary and discriminatory policy, which promises to exacerbate existing challenges. The policy implies that the Government of India has abdicated its responsibility to provide free vaccination for citizens between the age group of 18 to 45 years. This is complete abandonment of the Government’s responsibility towards our youth,” Gandhi said.
She said as a consequence of the policy, the vaccine manufacturer, i.e., the Serum Institute of India announced a differential pricing mechanism, viz, Rs. 150 per dose for the Central Government, Rs. 400 per dose for State Government and Rs 600 per dose for Private Hospitals.
Serum Institute had, however, clarified the cost for centre and state would both be Rs 400 a dose.
Gandhi said citizens will be compelled to pay high rates to be vaccinated and this will bleed the finances of state governments.
“This begs the question, how can the same vaccine manufactured by the same company have three different prices? There is no rationale or justification that allows for such arbitrary distinction. In these unprecedented times, how can the Government of India permit such brazen profiteering from people’s misery?” she asked.
She asked, “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.”
Gandhi also said that even with regards to the 50 per cent quota for vaccination available with the Central Government, the allocation must be transparent and equitable, in line with the spirit of cooperative federalism.
“Indian National Congress has already demanded a re-evaluation of this policy. Surely, any reasonable person will agree on the benefit of a uniform price for vaccination. I would urge you to intervene immediately and reverse this ill-considered decision. The nation’s goal must be to ensure that everyone over 18 years is given the vaccine, regardless of their economic circumstances,” she said.