Spokesperson of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Assam Pramod Swami tweeted on Friday, 16 July, claiming that 'India is the only country in the world to provide free vaccination'.
He tweeted the prices of several vaccine companies without naming any country and made the claim.
However, we found that the claim is false and several other countries, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, and China, among others, are providing COVID-19 vaccines to their citizens for free.
The claim lists that Pfizer is being sold at Rs 2,800, Moderna: Rs 2,715, Sinopharm at Rs 5,650, Sinovac for Rs 1,027, Novavax is being sold at Rs 1,114, Sputnik V for Rs 1,145, and Covishield and Covaxin are free.
ARE VACCINES FREE IN INDIA?
At first, we looked into the claim about India's free vaccination for all.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 7 June announced that vaccines for COVID-19 will be free in India for all citizens above the age of 18 years from 21 June onwards.
Prior to that, those between 18-45 years had to pay for the inoculation, while it was free for those above 45 years.
The changes in the vaccination policy were announced after it came under a cloud and several states reported vaccine shortages. PM Modi announced that 75 percent of the vaccine will be procured by the Centre – which includes the 25 percent quota of the state governments.
It was also stated that the private sector can continue to buy 25 percent of the vaccines, but the service charge was capped at Rs 150 per dose.
So, the maximum price for Covishield in India is Rs 780, for Covaxin it is Rs 1,410 and Sputnik V will cost Rs 1,145 at private hospitals, while it continues to be free at government-run centres.
WHAT ABOUT VACCINES IN OTHER COUNTRIES?
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that vaccines doses will be purchased by ‘taxpayers' dollars’ and will be provided to all people living in the United States at “no cost".
Even the United Kingdom is also providing free vaccination to all its citizens through their public-funded National Health Service (NHS).
Mexico, too, launched 'universal and free' COVID-19 vaccination for all in December 2020, according to a report published in The New Indian Express.
Even China is vaccinating all Chinese people free of cost, according to National Health Commission of the People's Republic of China.
Now, let's try and look at some of the prices mentioned in the viral message.
WHAT ABOUT THE PRICES MENTIONED IN THE MESSAGE?
The prices that are mentioned in the message is the cost of the vaccines available across the world. We found the same prices were mentioned in a report published in January 2021 in India Today, Hindustan Times and Scroll.
The same costs can be seen in a presentation given by the Press Information Bureau (PIB) on 12 January, 2021.
The report mentioned a single dose of Pfizer was priced at Rs 1,431 (which is nearly Rs 2,800 for two doses), Moderna's vaccine was priced at USD 32-USD 37 (which is Rs 2,348-Rs 2,715 per dose).
The price for Sinopharm was more than Rs 5,650, Sinovac Biotech was priced at Rs 1,027 and Novavax at Rs 1,114.
These are not charges that people have to pay to get vaccinated. It must be mentioned that these prices are as per the reports in January and the negotiations are on with respect to the pricing.
For instance, as per a report in Moneycontrol, Pfizer may be priced under USD 10 (Rs 730) for a single dose in India.
But it is clear that India is not the only country in the world to provide free vaccination to all its citizens.
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