Congress Slams Modi Govt over Vaccine Pricing
Terming the new anti-COVID vaccine policy “discriminatory and insensitive”, the Congress on Sunday accused the government of allowing vaccine makers to profiteer to the tune of Rs 1.11 lakh crore. Congress general secretary and chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala alleged that the government has abdicated its responsibility of providing free vaccines to the poor and the youth of the country.
“How can such brazen vaccine profiteering be permitted? Why is the Modi government complicit in this profiteering in the times of pandemic? Prime Minister Narendra Modi must answer,” he told reporters at a virtual press conference. He said vaccine development and mass immunisation are neither events nor PR exercises, but are important milestones in the service of people and inoculation being an important public service can never be a business opportunity for profiteering at the cost of people.
Surjewala said the Modi government has introduced “the most discriminatory and insensitive vaccination policy” in the entire world. “The Modi government is guilty of permitting brazen profiteering of vaccination. The Modi government is also guilty of abdicating its responsibility and abandoning the young of India between the age group of 18 and 45 years,” he alleged.
Covishield manufactured by the Serum Institute of India will be given at Rs 400 per dose to states and Rs 600 per dose to private hospitals, while Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin will cost Rs 600 per dose for the states and Rs 1,200 per dose for private hospitals. Going by the prices offered by the vaccine makers, Surjewala said the SII and Bharat Biotech would make Rs 35,350 crore and Rs 75,750 crore profit, respectively.
He came to the conclusion after assuming that 50 per cent of 101 crore people between 18 and 45 years are served by SII and Bharat Biotech, and estimating that half of them would buy their own vaccines and another half would be served by states. “The population below 45 years of age is 101 crore. To vaccinate them, we need 202 crore doses and the cost of these will have to be borne by the states or the individuals themselves, he said.
“Based on this and assuming that states will provide 50 percent vaccination and individuals will bear 50 per cent of vaccination cost, the profit of the two vaccine manufacturers — Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech — will be Rs 1,11,100 crore,” he said.
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said there is a body of opinion that holds that even at Rs 150 per dose, the two current manufacturers will make a small profit. “If true, at Rs 400-1000, it will be profiteering. Perhaps that is what the government wants,” he wrote in a tweet.
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