‘One nation, five vaccine prices’ unacceptable, says Congress

New Delhi: Attacking the Central government over its vaccine pricing policy, the Congress on Sunday said “One Nation, Five Vaccine Prices” is unacceptable and demanded “vaccine profiteering” end.

Addressing a press conference, Congress General Secretary Randeep Surjewala asked if the Modi government is complicit in vaccine profiteering of Rs 1,11,100 crore.

“Vaccine development and mass immunisation were neither ‘events’ nor ‘PR exercises’, but are important milestones in the service of the people. Corona vaccination is an important public service and can never be a business opportunity for profiteering at the cost of our people in the middle of the pandemic,” he said.

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Alleging that the Modi government has introduced the “most discriminatory and insensitive vaccination policy in the entire world”, he said it is guilty of permitting “brazen profiteering” from vaccination.

“The Modi government is also guilty of abdicating its responsibility and abandoning the young of India between the ages of 18-45 years,” Surjewala claimed, contending that the Modi government’s vaccination policy has abandoned this segment by clearly stating that the Centre takes no responsibility for their vaccination.

“They have to get themselves vaccinated or the onus lies upon the state governments to do so from their own resources,” he said, noting India’s population below 45 years is 74.35 per cent of total population, or at least 101 crore.

“Modi government’s vaccination policy has, therefore deregulated 50 per cent production of the two vaccine manufacturers i.e. Serum Institute of India (Covishield) and Bharat Biotech (Covaxin) as free from price regulation all together.

“The vaccine policy has permitted the two vaccine manufacturers to fix the prices for supply to state governments and to private institutions by their own volition. The two vaccine manufacturers have now released an absolutely discriminatory pricing policy,” he said.

“Serum Institute of India, producer of Covishield, has fixed the price per dose for supply to Central government at Rs 150, to state governments at Rs 400 and to private hospitals at Rs 600.

“Bharat Biotech, the producer of Covaxin, has fixed an entirely different range of prices i.e. price per dose to Central government Rs 150, to state governments at Rs 600 and to private hospitals Rs 1,200.

“Needless to add that the cost will be doubled as two doses of vaccines are required for every person. The population below 45 years of age is 101 crores. To vaccinate them, we need 202 crore doses. Cost of these will have to be borne by the states or the individuals themselves,” Surjewala said

“Based on this and assuming that states will provide 50 per cent of the vaccination and individuals will bear 50 per cent of the vaccination cost, the profit of the two vaccine manufacturers — the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech will be Rs 1,11,100 crore,” he said, sharing the calculations.

The Congress leader called on the Centre to realise that 81.35 crore people are eligible for subsidised ration under Food Security Act, as per a government press release of July 2019, as he asked if the SC/STs, OBCs, BPL, poor and underprivileged sections get the vaccine free or not.

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