Centre procuring Covid vax at inflated prices
17K vaccinated on Day 2, adverse reactions minor: Ministry
New Delhi: The Congress questioned the procurement of Covid vaccines, alleging that the government has procured the vaccines at inflated prices despite the manufacturers claiming they would supply the vaccines without seeking profit.
Congress General Secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala, addressing a press conference, said, "Why should the Modi government pay Rs 95 per dose more to Bharat Biotech for a vaccine that has been developed with the expertise and experience of scientists of government-run ICMR and pay more for a vaccine that has only been tested on 755 individuals and is yet to be cleared after phase-3 trials?"
The Congress leader said the price of such a vaccine must be cheaper than AstraZeneca-Serum Institute of India's Covishield.
"Why is the price of the vaccine at Rs 1,000 per dose in the open market?" he asked.
Surjewala said, "'Covishield' is an AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India. Serum Institute is supplying this vaccine at Rs 200/dose to government. AstraZeneca has committed to supplying the vaccine at no profit while 'Covaxin', manufactured by Bharat Biotech, is being supplied at Rs 295/dose. Admittedly, Covaxin has been developed by Bharat Biotech in partnership with Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)."
Over 17,000 people were vaccinated across six states on Day 2 .
Only a few required hospitalisation and these were listed as "serious", the ministry explained.
One "severe" and 51 "minor" cases of adverse events following immunisation (AEFI) were reported among health workers who were administered the coronavirus vaccine in Delhi on the first day.
The Congress also asked whether the government plans to provide free vaccines to all Indians, especially the underprivileged and the poor, and when. Surjewala said that though the government claims it will cover three crore people in the first round of the vaccination drive, it is yet to clarify if the remaining population of India will get a vaccine and whether they will get it for free.
Is the government not aware that 81.35 crore people are eligible for subsidised ration under the Food Security Act? Will the SC, ST, BC, OBC, BPL, APL, the poor and the underprivileged get the vaccine for free or not? If yes, what is the roll-out plan and by when will the government ensure free vaccination," he asked. "Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP government need to answer...Who will get free corona vaccine? How many people will get the free corona vaccine? Where will you get free corona vaccine," he said.