Visakhapatnam: YSR Congress Party Lok Sabha member from Narasaraopeta in the State Lavu Krishna Devarayalu has suggested that the existing system of procuring vaccine could be continued by the Centre by distributinh the same to States and alternatively, it could procure 80% of vaccine and allow vaccine companies to sell the remaining 20% to
hospitals, industries, business houses, companies, etc., at mutually agreed price.
In a letter addressed to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday, he noted that it was not just Vaccine Diplomacy but even the Vaccine strategy for people of the country was appreciated globally and by every political party and State Government in the country.
“The second wave of pandemic is making the country breathless and every section of people is screaming for vaccines since it appears that vaccines are the only panacea to deal with COVID. But, the sudden change in policy – 50% vaccine produced would be given to the Central Government and the remaining 50% would be given to States, hospitals, etc. – by the Government and prescribing different prices for the same vaccine has shocked the entire country. I am not able to comprehend how a company can charge different prices for Union Government and State Governments! I can understand different pricing for others,” he stated.
The MP felt that washing off hands by the Centre from procurement and distribution would derail the meticulous strategy being adopted by it and pitting States against each other and private players would definitely hamper the vaccination drive undertaken by the country.
Almost all countries, including the USA, were distributing vaccines to their citizens free of cost since it is the responsibility of the sovereign Government. So, for a country with Rs. 35 lakh crore Budget, it should not become difficult to spend three per cent of it to deal with the pandemic of this magnitude with the Finance Minister already giving Rs. 35,000 crore in the Budget for vaccination, he pointed out.
“I agree that vaccine producing companies should have reasonable returns and Mr. Poonawala is on record saying that he is getting ‘reasonable profit.’ And, even the Government of India has recently given Rs. 4,500 crore (Rs. 3,000 crores to Serum Institute and Rs. 1,500 crores to Bharat Biotech) when they were in need of money. So, ‘liberalisation’ of vaccine sales and ‘deregulation’ of vaccine price is not in the interest of the people of this country as there is a genuine fear that the new guidelines would make vaccines unaffordable and exclude millions of poor from access to vaccines. Also, asking States to purchase vaccines directly from the companies will also create problems, since ‘rich States’ would corner vaccines and ‘poor
States’ like North-East, Chhattisgarh, Jharkahnd, etc., would find it extremely difficult to purchase and vaccinate its people,” the MP stated.
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