NEW DELHI: Congress on Sunday accused the Modi government of facilitating vaccine profiteering amid the steep and persistent rise in coronavirus cases in the country.
Congress’s communications head Randeep Surjewala said it was unacceptable that the two vaccines available in India were being sold at five different price points and accused the Modi government of abdicating its responsibility to the people by allowing this to happen.
Surjewala also alleged that by introducing the “highly discriminatory vaccine policy” under which the vaccines would be sold at different prices to the Centre, states and private hospitals, the government had allowed the two vaccine manufacturers, Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech, to make a profit of Rs 1.11 lakh crore at the expense of India’s young.
“Modi government’s vaccination policy has deregulated 50% 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 two have now released an absolutely discriminatory pricing policy,” he said.
Last week, Serum Institute announced that it will sell its vaccine to the Centre at Rs 150 per dose, to states at Rs 400 a piece and to private hospitals at Rs 600 per vial. Bharat Biotech, on the other hand, said its vaccine will cost Rs 600 per dose for state governments and Rs 1,200 for private hospitals. The Union government, however, will continue to get Covaxin at Rs 150 per vial.
After widespread outrage over the differential pricing of vaccines by all opposition parties including Congress, the Union government clarified that it will make its share of vaccines available to states for free. However, it did not comment on higher prices for the remaining 50% of vaccines.
Criticising the “liberalised” vaccine pricing, Congress said India will need 202 crore doses to inoculate its eligible population. It also said this “discriminatory and insensitive” price policy would effectively disenfranchise around 31 crore BPL population, and crores of others who represent marginalised or economically backward communities.
Congress also slammed the Modi government for failing to use the PM-Cares fund to set up a single oxygen plant in the last one year, despite having promised to start 75. “Not a single plant has been set up using PM-Cares fund in the last one year. Only announcements have been made, but no implementation on the ground,” Surjewala said.