Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal addresses the media on Covid-19 situation, in New Delhi on Tuesday. (ANI Photo)
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal addresses the media on Covid-19 situation, in New Delhi on Tuesday. (ANI Photo)

Centre, not states, should import vaccines: Kejriwal

  • Reiterating the Delhi government’s demand for “one nation, one tender” policy on Covid-19 vaccine procurement, Kejriwal tweeted, “Indian states have been left to compete/fight with each other in the international market.
By Sweta Goswami, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAY 14, 2021 02:34 AM IST

Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday said the Centre should procure Covid-19 vaccines from foreign companies rather than each state government bidding against each other, which portrays a “bad image of India”.

Reiterating the Delhi government’s demand for “one nation, one tender” policy on Covid-19 vaccine procurement, Kejriwal tweeted, “Indian states have been left to compete/fight with each other in the international market. UP fighting Maharashtra, Maharashtra fighting Odisha, Odisha fighting Delhi. Where is “India”? Portrays such a bad image of India.”

He added: “Also when we approach vaccine manufacturers and their countries as India rather than individual states, our bargaining power is much more, Indian government has much more diplomatic space to negotiate with their countries. I urge the Centre to directly procure vaccines from foreign companies rather than each state bidding against each other in the international market.”

The chief minister welcomed top government advisor Dr VK Paul’s statement that the central government and Bharat Biotech, which manufactures Covaxin, are willing to invite other companies that want to produce it. “A very welcome step by the central government. It will help in ramping up production (of vaccines),” Kejriwal tweeted.

Meanwhile, Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain said he requested Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan during a video meeting on Thursday to reduce the prices of Covaxin and Covishield.

The minister also said Delhi has neither been informed about nor supplied any doses of the Sputnik V so far.

Jain claimed that the makers of Covaxin and Covishield (Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India) were earning a profit of 16,000 crore per billion doses.

“The manufacturers of Covaxin and Covishield have taken this crisis as an opportunity to generate high profits. Covishield is being supplied to the Centre at 150, and the company’s chairman has stated on-record that they are incurring profits. It is manufacturing 60 million vaccines every month. Even if we go by a profit of 10 per dose, and they give half of the vaccines to the Centre, which is 30 million, the estimated profit comes out to be 30 crore. Now, the same vaccine is being sold to the state governments at 300, which means the profit doubles, while the cost of production remains the same. Not only that, the same vaccine is being sold at 400 to private entities, and the profit incurred goes up to 260 per dose (considering that their cost of production would be 140). By this entire estimation, the company generates a profit of 960 crore in just one month,” Jain said.

“Now, coming to Covaxin, which is supplying vaccines at an even higher rate. Their rate to supply the Centre is the same ( 150), but it is selling to states and private entities at an even higher cost than Covishield. So, their profit will be even higher than what the manufacturers of Covishield are making. The request that we have put to the Centre is that a uniform rate of 150 to the Centre, should be kept for others as well,” he said.

Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute did not comment on Jain’s claims.

Reacting to the Supreme Court’s suggestion to do away with differential pricing for Covid-19 vaccines between the Centre and states, the central government on Sunday said there was “little room for judicial interference” in these matters at the time of a pandemic.

In an affidavit submitted before the Supreme Court on Sunday night, the Centre maintained that the vaccination drive for those between 18 and 44 was approved after requests by states and that the Centre persuaded manufacturers to supply vaccines to states at uniform prices.

“It is pertinent to note that the Central government by nature of its large vaccination programme, places large purchase orders for vaccines as opposed to the state governments and/or private hospitals and therefore, this reality has some reflection in the prices negotiated,” the Centre said in the affidavit.

The Union health ministry declined to comment.

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