A DAY after India began its vaccination exercise, the Congress Sunday raised questions on the vaccine pricing and demanded that the government divulge whether it plans to provide free vaccines to all Indians, especially the underprivileged, and when. The party, however, said it will believe the government’s word on the vaccine’s safety.
Addressing a press conference, Congress communication department head Randeep Surjewala said the government is refusing to answer whether all Indians or at least the underprivileged and poor will get free vaccines. “Will the SC, ST, BC, OBC, BPL, APL, poor & underprivileged get the corona vaccine free or not? If yes, what is the roll-out plan?” he asked.
Surjewala raised questions over the pricing of the two vaccines – Covaxin developed by Bharat Biotech and Oxford Covishield vaccine, manufactured by Serum Institute of India. He said Serum Institute is supplying its vaccine at Rs 200 per dose to the government. AstraZeneca, he said, has committed to supplying it at no profit. He said, “Belgium has said that the cost of AstraZeneca vaccine for them is around Rs 158… Why should our government pay more…?” As for Covaxin, he asked why the government should pay Rs 95 more to Bharat Biotech for a vaccine that has been developed with the expertise of ICMR scientists.