'Needless Politics, Centre Not Getting Vaccines Cheap': Health Minister

'Needless Politics, Centre Not Getting Vaccines Cheap': Health Minister

Harsh Vardhan said the Centre will provide support to states to vaccinate all eligible people for free

New Delhi:

Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan in a Facebook post today said the government does not give vaccines directly to anyone and said that the Centre getting the vaccine cheaper than the states is "patently false".

"The 50% quota, that is at Government of India's pricing, is for free distribution of vaccines and distribution of all of this will be done through the states only. Hence the allegation that Centre is getting it cheap and states are not is patently false," he said in a lengthy post.

The Serum Institute of India, manufacturing Covishield, announced that its vaccine would be sold at Rs 400 to states and at Rs 600 to private hospitals.

Bharat Biotech's Covaxin will cost Rs 600 for state governments and Rs 1,200 for private hospitals, the company said in a statement on Saturday. The prices for the Centre would remain the same at Rs 150.

The Congress hit back at the minister with six questions on the vaccine prices.

"One needs a 4 page statement to bury the truth in jargon of words. Truth is always simple," Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted.

The Health Minister, in the post, also clarified on what he called "a great deal of misinformation" about the third phase of vaccination beginning May 1 for all ages above 18.

"Sadly, I am also compelled to point out that there are certain political leaders who have chosen to indulge in needless politics on the issue of vaccination and are spreading misinformation at every step, whether it is about the efficacy or about pricing," he said without naming anyone.

He explained the "balance 50 per cent quota" of vaccines as he says many questions have been raised over it.

Adding that this adds "flexibility for states", Harsh Vardhan added that the quota will give them the freedom to vaccinate groups that they think are a priority.

"The 'balance 50% quota" is also open for corporate and private sector to pool in their resources so that the combined effort of Team India can be deployed to vaccinate every adult in the earliest possible time," Dr Vardhan added.

He added that the Centre will continue to provide full support to the states to vaccinate all eligible people free of cost.

The Health Minister said that the people who can afford the vaccine from private centres are free to get inoculated at a higher price.

"The actual situation is that states are getting one guaranteed channel of free vaccine supply, while it can simultaneously procure vaccines from another channel as per its aspirations and commitment to its people," he said.

Saying that he sees "no reason" for states to complain now, the Health Minister added that now they can directly purchase and negotiate prices of vaccines.