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Opposition targets Modi govt over 'vaccine discrimination' after Serum Institute announces Covishield prices Covid-19 Vaccine
(From L to R) Rahul Gandhi, Narendra Modi and Mamata Banerjee (Images: Rahul Gandhi Facebook, PIB and TMC)

Opposition targets Modi govt over 'vaccine discrimination' after Serum Institute announces Covishield prices

India Blooms News Service | @indiablooms | 22 Apr 2021, 01:12 pm

New Delhi/IBNS: Mounting pressure further on the Centre, several opposition leaders have criticised the Narendra Modi government over the difference in prices at which the Serum Institute of India (SII) has decided to sell its Covid-19 vaccine to the Centre, states and private hospitals.

The SII, which has produced the vaccine developed by Oxford University in India, will continue to sell Covishield to the central government at Rs. 150 per dose while to the states and private hospitals at Rs. 400 and Rs. 600 per dose respectively.

The company had cited that American, Russian, Chinese vaccines are sold to the private market at a cost ranging between Rs. 750 and Rs. 1,500 per dose.

Slamming the Centre, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi called out the "vaccine discrimination" tweeting, "The disaster of the country, an opportunity for Modi's friends, an injustice by the central government."

Former Union Finance Minister and Congress veteran, P Chidambaram, tweeted, "Expectedly, the price of COVISHIELD vaccine has been fixed at Rs 400 for government hospitals and Rs 600 for private hospitals. Who will pay 400 rupees for a dose in government hospitals? State Government or Beneficiary?"

Questioning the difference in prices, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday reminded the SII that it was the time for "humanity" and not "business".

"Why would there be a difference in price? It is not the time to do business but to show humanity," Banerjee said.

In a direct attack on the central government, which is already facing flak over the shortage of oxygen supplies and vaccines, the Chief Minister tweeted on Thursday, "One nation, one party, one leader shouts BJP all the time but to save lives they can’t have one price for vaccines.

"Every Indian needs a free vaccine, regardless of age, caste, creed, location. GoI must fix ONE price for Covid vaccine irrespective of who pays— Centre or the States."

In the same tune, Telangana Rashtriya Samithi (TRS) working president KT Rama Rao tweeted, "We agreed for One Nation - One Tax (GST) But now we see, One Nation - Two different Vaccine prices !? For Govt of India @ Rs 150 And State Govts @ Rs 400 Can’t the GoI subsume any additional cost from PM CARES & help rapid vaccination across India?"

DMK chief MK Stalin tweeted, "The differential pricing for vaccines between Union & State Governments is discriminatory and defeats the objective of universal vaccination. Urge @PMOIndia to ensure common vaccine prices for all. States must also receive Central funding to procure vaccines as per their needs."

In a clarification post controversy, SII CEO Adar Poonawalla said that the price (Rs. 150 per dose) at which Covishields are sold to the Centre was as per the previous contract, which was signed without knowing the efficacy of the vaccine.

As per the new contract, he said, all vaccines will be sold at Rs. 400 per dose.

The central government on Monday expanded the vaccination drive to all people aged 18 or more from May 1, in a bid to tackle the massive surge in Covid-19 cases across the country.

The Centre has also allowed the vaccine manufacturing companies to sell 50 per cent of the produce to the states and private hospitals, reserving the other half for the central government.