Madurai

Do away with discriminatory pricing of vaccine: MP

Su. Venkatesan  

Madurai MP Su. Venkatesan has questioned the rationale behind “discriminatory” pricing of Covishield vaccine while the Centre has always been talking about “One Nation, one ration card; one election; one tax”.

Pointing out the three rates for the vaccine when the whole nation is in the grip of fear about unabated rise of COVID cases, he said that it would be a great blow to leave the poor and middle class people at the mercy of the market.

In a letter addressed to Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, Mr. Venkatesan pointed out Serum Institute of India announcing its vaccine price as ₹ 150 per dose for Central government, ₹ 400 for State governments and ₹ 600 for private hospitals.

“I doubt whether your decision (to have different rates for Centre and States) would be in consonance with constitutionality while our nation is "Union of States", he said.

Stating that there will be a steep demand for vaccine after the Centre opened up vaccine for all above 18 years of age, he said it would create a lot of hurdles in supply chain as every State and region would rush to get it.

As the State governments are already reeling under severe financial crisis and debt burdens, the new pricing policy will put an additional burden on their back.

Mr. Venkatesan cautioned the Centre that private hospitals may flood the market with their resources which would affect the availability of vaccines to ordinary people who depend upon the State-run medical facilities.

“We have already experienced loot by certain corporate hospitals by inflicting exorbitant charges on the Covid patients and the same should not be the case with the vaccines too,” the Communist Party of India (Marxist) MP said.

He wanted the Centre to foot the whole bill for vaccine by resorting to additional revenue generation by increasing Corporate tax, introduction of inheritance tax, wealth taxes, taxes on super rich suggested by renowned economists.

“The poor deserved better care from the government since they are bearing 66% of tax revenues in the form of indirect taxes,” he added.

Mr. Venkatesan said that supply of vaccine should be ensured by scaling up production by involving all State-owned medical institutions, including Hindustan Bio tech at Chengalpattu, and BCG Vaccine Lab in Chennai.

Besides, exports of vaccine should be regulated as India itself was facing a short supply.

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 1:26:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/do-away-with-discriminatory-pricing-of-vaccine-mp/article34393988.ece

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