The Centre today fixed the maximum price that private hospitals can charge for Covid vaccines amid opposition allegations of profiteering. The price of Covishield has been fixed at Rs 780 a dose, Russian vaccine Sputnik V at Rs 1,145 a dose and indigenously made Covaxin, at a steep Rs 1,410 a dose. This includes taxes as well as a 150-rupee service charge for the hospitals.
The Center has asked the states not to allow private hospitals to levy more than Rs 150 as service charge. The state governments have been asked to monitor the private hospitals regularly and said strict action will be taken against any private vaccination center for charging more.
Under the new vaccine policy announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday -- which will be implemented from June 21, the International Yoga Day -- the Centre said it will procure 75 per cent of the vaccines produced by companies, including the 25 per cent currently assigned to states. Private hospitals will continue to buy the remaining 25 per cent and vaccinate those who are willing to pay.
In government-run institutions, vaccines will be provided for free to all eligible persons, Prime Minister Modi said yesterday in his address to the nation.
The earlier vaccine policy announced in May has been much criticised because of the differential pricing. Critics pointed out that many countries are inoculating all sections of their population for free, with the government bearing all costs.
The Supreme Court said asking people between the ages of 18 and 44 years to pay for vaccines which people above the age of 45 were getting for free, is "prima facie arbitrary and irrational".
After the Prime Minister's address to the nation yesterday, Congress's Rahul Gandhi questioned why people have to pay for vaccination in private hospitals.
Under the hashtag #FreeVaccineForAll, he tweeted, "One simple question- If vaccines are free for all, why should private hospitals charge for them?"
The Congress has been demanding "one nation one price" for vaccines for long.
Today, its senior leader Jairam Ramesh said: "Our country is the only country where we have said that 25 per cent of the vaccine will be given to the private sector and there you will pay Rs 800, 1,000, 2,000... it is not in the interest of the country or the people and again we repeat our demand -- all Indians should get free vaccination, in government hospitals and private hospitals."