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Allegation that Centre Is Getting Jabs Cheap Is False: Health Min

For the Centre, the price of Covishield and Covaxin will be Rs 150.

Updated
India
2 min read
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan.
i

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Sunday, 25 April, said that the government does not give vaccines to anyone directly and the claim that that the Centre gets the jabs cheaper than the states is "patently false".

In a lengthy Facebook post, the minister wrote, "The 50% quota, that is at Government of India's pricing, is for free distribution of vaccines and distribution of all of this will be done through the states only. Hence, the allegation that Centre is getting it cheap and states are not is patently false.”

The Serum Institute of India, which manufactures Covishield, announced that it would sell the vaccine to states and private hospitals for Rs 400 and Rs 600 respectively.

Bharat Biotech's Covaxin will cost state governments Rs 600 and private hospitals Rs 1,200. The prices for the Centre would remain the same at Rs 150.

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The Health Minister also alleged that "a great deal of misinformation" was being spread about third phase of vaccination beginning May 1 for all ages above 18, saying that ‘certain political leaders’ are doing so, without stating any names.

He also addressed the "balance 50 percent quota" of vaccines as many questions have been raised over it and said that it adds “flexibility for states”.

The Union minister added "The 'balance 50% quota’ is also open for corporate and private sector to pool in their resources so that the combined effort of Team India can be deployed to vaccinate every adult in the quickest possible time.”

Truth is Simple: Congress Hits Back

In response, the Congress asked the minister six questions on the vaccine prices.

Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted, "One needs a four-page statement to bury the truth in the jargon of words. Truth is always simple.”

Retorting to the Union Minister’s call for ‘shared idealism’, the leader said that the idealism cannot be founded upon vaccine profiteering, and labelled the Centre as a ‘complicit abettor’ in this regard.

He also asked the Centre, “Is it not GOI’s responsibility to provide free vaccine to all? Why free vaccine in Bihar and Bengal, not in (rest of) India?”

What the Health Ministry Said

In a series of tweets on Sunday, the Health Ministry also raised the issue of the vaccine procurement. It wrote, “It is made clear that every month only 50 percent of the total Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL) cleared vaccine doses of any manufacturer would be procured by the Government of India.”

The vaccines procured by the Centre will be provided to the states free of cost to inoculate all healthcare workers, frontline workers and everyone above 45 years of age.

Stating that the balance 50 percent would be left for private and state procurement, the ministry added that “empowering the states and private hospitals to procure the balance 50 percent of COVID-19 vaccine from manufacturers not only opens up the vaccination drive to people between 18 and 45, it also encourages private hospitals and state governments to use their vaccination capacity optimally.”

Meanwhile, India on Monday, reported over 3.52 lakh COVID-19 cases and 2,812 deaths in the last 24 hours, as per data by the Union Health Ministry. India had surpassed the previous highest single-day rise in the world, which was of 2,97,430 cases in the United States last week.

(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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