Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy on Saturday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to suspend supply of COVID-19 vaccines to private hospitals as they are allegedly charging exorbitant prices per vial.
In a letter to the Centre, the Chief Minister alleged that the private hospitals are charging exorbitant prices - from Rs 2,000 to Rs 25,000 per vial. He also said that the control over vaccines should be with the central and state governments.
"Due to the price differential offered to them and also the flexibility available to the private hospitals to fix the price of their vaccines, these hospitals are charging as high as Rs 2,000-25,000 for each dose from the public," the Chief Minister mentioned in the letter.
This makes these doses one of the costliest in the world, inviting criticism from the general public, Mr Reddy said while underscoring that vaccines are for the public good and ideally they need to be given free of cost or at least at affordable rates.
He also mentioned that due to insufficient availability of vaccines under both channels of supply many states have not been able to vaccinate people below 45-year-old.
"Many governments including ours have taken a decision to vaccinate people in the 18-44 age group also free of cost.
However, due to insufficient availability of vaccines under both channels of supply, currently only those who are above 45 years of age are being vaccinated in our State as they are more vulnerable," he told the Prime Minister.
He said that the availability of vaccines at both public and private hospitals would be a good idea only if there is surplus availability of the vaccines wherein anyone can choose any mode as per his or her choice and financial capability.
"In today's situation where supply is very limited, providing this option to private hospitals wherein they charge an exorbitant price is socially unacceptable and administratively difficult to monitor," he wrote.
He added that the policy decision of the Centre in this regard to allow private hospitals to directly purchase vaccines is sending out "wrong signals" to the people and also creating a situation of black marketing of the vaccines.