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Punjab Withdraws ‘One-Time’ Order to Supply Vaccines to Hospitals

The amount deposited by the private hospitals in the Vaccine Fund shall be refunded to them, the order said.

Published
COVID-19
2 min read
Punjab CM Amarinder Singh (left), Prakash Javadekar (centre), Anurag Thakur (right).
i

The Punjab government on Friday, 4 June, withdrew the order for providing “one time limited” vaccine doses for the 18 to 44 years age group through private hospitals, as it has not been taken “in the right spirit.”

While Congress tried to resolve the weeks of infighting within its Punjab unit, the Punjab government came under fire after allegations against the government of selling COVID vaccines to private hospitals at “hefty margins” came to the fore.

The order further asked private hospitals to return all the vaccine doses available with them and also return those which have been utilised once the hospital get direct supplies from the manufacturers.

The amount deposited by the private hospitals in the Vaccine Fund shall be refunded to them, the order said.

Here’s what has happened so far:

Akali Dal Calls Punjab Government ‘Immoral’

Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Badal on Thursday said that the Punjab government had re-sold 40,000 doses of Covaxin for a profit of Rs 660 per dose.

Badal explained that the doses had been purchased at Rs 400 per dose and sold to private hospitals for Rs 1,060 per dose. The hospitals further sold it at a price of Rs 1,560 per dose, PTI reported.

Badal claimed that in Mohali 35,000 doses were sold for "a profit" of nearly Rs 2 crore in a day. Calling the state government’s actions as "immoral," Badal called for a High Court-monitored probe and a case against Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu.

Punjab Health Minister BS Sidhu on Friday responded to the accusations and said that his department does not have “control over vaccines,” ANI reported. He also promised an investigation into the claim, with an initial report due Friday afternoon.

"I don't have control over vaccines. I just look over treatment, testing, sampling of COVID-19 and vaccination camps. We will definitely set an inquiry. I myself can enquire," BS Sidhu added, as per ANI.

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‘Callous Attitude’: BJP Hits Out at Congress

Though the BJP’s Phase-3 policy has been widely criticised by Congress and also been called “arbitrary and irrational” by the Supreme Court, this time, however, it was the BJP’s turn to hit back.

Prakash Javadekar said, "Rahul Gandhi should first look after his state rather than giving lectures to others. Punjab has been provided with more than 1.40 lakh doses of Covaxin at Rs 400 and they've given it to 20 private hospitals at Rs 1,000.”

Junior Finance Minister Anurag Thakur also slammed the Punjab government on Thursday saying that the Punjab government was showing a "callous attitude towards the people," ANI reported.

“Why should an individual pay over ₹ 3,120 for two doses when the centre is providing free vaccines to the state?” Thakur asked, accusing them of being “hand in glove with private hospitals.”

Several states, including Punjab, have raised alarms regarding low vaccine stocks and frequently suspended vaccination, over the past few weeks, as the country tries to recover from the second COVID wave.

Meanwhile, the Centre has said that it will vaccinate the whole country by the end of December, however, the Supreme Court this week questioned the central government's plan.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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