Congress leader Rahul Gandhi today asked the ruling BJP not to turn India "into a victim of its system" in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. He said vaccines must be provided free of cost to citizens and that this needn't be a matter of discussion anymore.
In a sharp tweet of three terse Hindi lines posted today, the Wayanad MP said: "Enough of discussion. Citizens must get vaccines free of cost, end of matter. Don't turn India into a victim of the BJP's system."
The tweet comes in the context of Covid vaccine pricing, a debate over which has been raging even since the Centre declared, under its 'Liberalised Pricing and Accelerated National Covid-19 Vaccination Strategy', that there will be three different prices from May 1.
Serum Institute of India said, for instance, that it will sell its Covishield vaccine at Rs 400 per dose to state governments and to private hospitals Rs 600. Bharat Biotech's Covaxin will cost Rs 600 for state governments and Rs 1,200 for private hospitals. Its price for the Centre, however, would remain the same at Rs 150.
Under the liberalised strategy, Centre has opened vaccination for all citizens who are 18 years and above.
The new pricing policy, however, sparked fury among many circles.
While some states like Kerala have declared that citizens will continue to receive the vaccines free of cost, the drain on the exchequer of state governments has become a matter of serious concern.
Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, in a Facebook post yesterday, said the contention that the Centre was getting vaccines cheaper than the states was "patently false".
"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.