Covid-19 Vaccine Pricing Controversy: The Congress has launched a scathing attack on the silence of the Modi government over the announcement of high prices by companies making the COVID vaccine in India. Senior party leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram and party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala have also pointed fingers at the Modi government, accusing the vaccine companies of shamelessly profiting in times of national crisis.
The burden of profiteering will fall on the public: Surjewala
Surjewala has said that the prices of vaccines for state governments and private hospitals have been declared extremely high after Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India recently got an exemption from the government to fix prices. He has claimed that with the implementation of the announced prices, both companies will make huge profits of about Rs 1 lakh 11 thousand 100 crore in this round of trouble, the burden of which will ultimately be on the people of the country.
Why is profiteering being allowed in the vaccine: Surjewala
Surjewala has questioned how such a shameful profiteering can be allowed in providing the vaccine? Why is the Modi government getting involved in this game of profiteering in the terrible phase of the epidemic? The Congress has said that vaccination is neither an event nor a PR exercise. This is an important public service, which in no case can be made an opportunity to shine business by profiting at the cost of people’s lives. Is this profiteering of both companies a result of collusion with the Modi government?
Central government shuns responsibility of 101 crore people: Congress
Congress spokesperson has also said that the new vaccination policy of Modi government is the most discriminatory and insensitive in the world. Through this policy, the Modi government has completely abdicated its responsibility towards the people between the age group of 18 to 45 years. Whereas 74.35 per cent of the total population of the country i.e. about 101 crore people are of this age. Surjewala said that the Modi government should also keep in mind that according to the statistics of the government itself, 28 percent of the population in the country is below the poverty line and 41 percent of the population belongs to the backward classes. Not only this, 81.35 crore people in the country are considered entitled to get subsidized ration under the Food Security Act. Congress has asked whether all these people will be given free vaccine or not?
Government supporting the profiteering of vaccine manufacturers: Chidambaram
The country’s former finance minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram has also targeted the Modi government over the high vaccine prices. Chidambaram has asked the question via Twitter, “Will those who justify the prices of COVISHIELD of Rs 400 and Rs 600, also justify the prices of Rs 600 and 1200 COVAXIN announced today? The government stands (not helpless) and is silently supporting scandalous profiteering and exploitation by both manufacturers. Why is the government not implementing the provision of ‘compulsory licensing’? “
Government should curb profiteering through compulsory licensing: Chidambaram
Chidambaram further explained the compulsory licensing issue, “Both the vaccine manufacturers have announced 5 different prices for the same vaccine and the government is looking quietly! This is the right time to expose the fraud of both companies. The best way to do this is that the government, following the provisions of compulsory licensing, should ask for tenders from other pharma companies of the country to make the same vaccine, for which royalty will be given to SII and Bharat Biotech. The proposals of those companies will make it clear how much the actual cost of making the vaccine is with reasonable profits. Many experts are of the opinion that even at the price of Rs 150, both the vaccine manufacturers are making some profit. If this assessment is correct, then charging more than 400 to 1000 rupees will be considered as gross profiteering. Perhaps this is what the government wants. Will the Health Ministry respond to this? “
Dispute started after vaccine manufacturers were allowed to fix the price
In fact, all this controversy has started recently after the Modi government has given exemption to both companies making COVID-19 vaccine in India to fix the vaccine prices themselves. Both companies have so far been providing their vaccines at the rate of Rs 150 per dose to the central government. But soon after getting the discount for fixing the price, the Serum Institute announced to charge Rs 400 from the state governments and Rs 600 from private hospitals for one dose of its vaccine Kovishield. While the head of the company has said during an interview on a channel that even at the price of Rs 150, they are making some profit, although they are not able to earn super profit.
Bharat Biotech Keeps Covaxine Prices Higher Than Kovishield
The controversy over the high prices of Kovishield was not yet stopped that Bharat Biotech, the second company to manufacture COVID vaccine in the country, has shocked even more by announcing higher prices. The company has announced to charge Rs 600 from the state governments and Rs 1200 per dose from private hospitals for its vaccine cocaine. Whereas Bharat Biotech has been giving the same vaccine to the Central Government for Rs. 150. This is the reason that the opposition is criticizing it as an attempt to turn the national disaster into an opportunity for profiteering.