Sonia writes to PM; seeks uniform price for Covid-19 vaccines
Congress president Sonia Gandhi wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday, asking how “the Government of India can permit such brazen profiteering from people’s misery?”, a day after Serum Institute of India released its differential Covid-19 vaccine’s price list for the Centre, states and private hospital.
Gandhi demanded a re-evaluation of the Centre’s modified vaccination policy and a uniform price for vaccines.
After many states asked the Union government to decentralise the vaccination process and lift the age cap to allow them to inoculate more people, the Centre announced all adults will be eligible for vaccine and doses can be sold via the market from May 1.
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The decision, taken during a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, makes India one of the first countries to allow all adults to get the vaccine, although people under the age of 45 will only be able to receive doses once private sales begin or if state governments procure stocks for distribution to these age groups.
In her letter to PM, Gandhi referred to the Serum Institute of India’s rate list -- Rs150 per dose for the Centre but ₹400 for state government and ₹600 for private hospitals -- and said, “This means that citizens will be compelled to pay these high rates to be vaccinated. This will also bleed the finances of state governments.”
“In these unprecedented times, how can the Government of India permit such brazen profiteering from people’s misery? 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,” she said.
Earlier, the Congress had demanded the formula of “one nation, one price” for vaccines.
“..how can the same vaccine manufactured by the same company have three different prices?” Gandhi questioned, claiming no rationale or justification in this “arbitrary distinction”.
She alleged that the Union government has abdicated its responsibility to provide free vaccination for people in the age group of 18 to 45 years and “this is complete abandonment of the Government’s responsibility towards our youth.”
She reiterated that the allocation to state governments should be “transparent and equitable, in line with the spirit of cooperative federalism.”