Punjab Health & Family Welfare Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu said that Central Government’s order of capping of Covid vaccine prices at Private Hospital is hasty and late.
While reacting to the latest decision of the Central Government to cap the vaccines prices, Sidhu said that this decision was taken at much later stage when private hospitals had already made huge profits in the vaccination process while BJP leaders raised the false allegations that Punjab Government is making profit by supplying the vaccines to private hospitals.
Responding on the latest decision of union government to take all the purchase of vaccine under its purview, Health Minister said that the State/UT Governments do not enjoy the unique position of the GoI, which has the advantage of being a monopolistic buyer and can negotiate an appropriate price for the vaccines on behalf of the entire population of India as GoI was getting the Covishield vaccine at price of Rs. 150 per dose whereas State Government was getting at Rs. 315 including GST for same vaccine.
The Minister also advised the Modi Government that they must administer free vaccines to all sections of societies as BJP had announced in many State elections that free Covid Vaccines would be provided to all. Keeping in view of administering free vaccine to all, the GoI should abolish 25 percent quota allocated to private players.
Health Minister further urged to Modi Government that they should refund all payments made by State Governments for COVID Vaccines under new policy.
Lashing out at Union Government for blaming Punjab government raising profits by supplying vaccines to private hospitals, the Minister said that considering the Vaccine policy of the Central Government, the state Govt decided to prioritise the poor and most deserving sections, initially only persons with co-morbidities, construction labour and families of healthcare workers. He said that the private hospitals were expected to cater to those in the 18-45 age groups who wanted to avail paid vaccination such as students and persons who have to take up jobs in foreign countries and were not being covered in any of the priority groups.
He said that month of May witnessed the peak of the second wave and many youngsters aged between 18-44 years appealed to the Punjab Government that there was no vaccination available in private hospitals in Punjab unlike in other states, efforts were made to persuade the private hospitals to procure vaccines, but only a few succeeded and got limited supply from manufacturers, while others sought the support of the state govt.
Mr. Sidhu stated that vaccine was given to the private hospitals, at the rate they would have paid to the vaccine manufacturers for procuring the vaccine, as giving at a rate less than that would have given them undue profit. The sale price of vaccines supplied to private hospitals went into the State Vaccine Fund for purchase of vaccines for the poor and the deserving.
The Minister clarified that fixing the rate of any vaccine as well as medicine falls under the purview of GoI and latest instructions regarding capping of vaccine prices at private hospitals have been issued to all Deputy Commissioners and Civil Surgeons to ensure the compliance.