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Covid-19 | Rajasthan to move Supreme Court for global vaccine tenders by Centre

A view of the Supreme Court of India. File   | Photo Credit: S. Subramanium

The Congress government in Rajasthan will move the Supreme Court seeking directions to the Centre to float global tenders for procuring COVID-19 vaccines, which could be supplied to the States on the latter bearing the costs. The State halted its vaccination exercise on Thursday in the absence of sufficient number of doses.

The global expression of interest (EoI) issued by the Rajasthan government for urgent procurement of vaccines recently did not yield the desired results, as the interested companies quoted much higher rates than the present market prices of vaccines. Nine parties, including those claiming to be authorised agents of AstraZeneca and Sputnik, had sent their quotes.

Earlier this month, the West Bengal government had urged the Supreme Court to set aside the Centre's differentiated pricing policy for vaccines and direct it to adopt and implement a uniform policy for procuring 100% doses from manufacturers, which could be equitably distributed to the States and Union Territories for free.

After a prolonged tussle with the BJP government at the Centre, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot had announced last month that the State government would spend ₹3,000 crore on the vaccination of about 3.75 crore people in the age group of 18 to 44 years. He said the budget for development works and social security schemes would be slashed to allocate funds for inoculations.

‘Global tenders of no help’

However, Medical and Health Minister Raghu Sharma said on Thursday that the global tenders would not help the States much, as they could not check the credentials of manufacturers and suppliers. “This task can be accomplished by the External Affairs Ministry through the Ambassadors posted in different countries. Ideally, it is the Centre which should float the global tenders,” he said.

Mr. Sharma wondered why the States should purchase vaccines at higher prices from abroad, while the Centre was paying only ₹150 for each dose to the Indian manufacturers. “The Centre has allotted 12.66 lakh vaccines from both Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech to Rajasthan for June. With this combined quota, it will not be possible to vaccinate 3.25 crore beneficiaries... We require nearly 7 crore vaccines for double doses and to compensate for wastage.”

The Minister said the vaccination had been stopped in the State because the supply of vaccines from Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech was very slow despite an advance of ₹59 crore having been paid to the two companies. The inoculations would be resumed as and when sufficient doses were received, he said.

The Medical and Health Department has appointed three teams for conducting an audit of deaths caused by COVID-19 amid allegations levelled by the Opposition BJP that the fatalities were being under-reported. Mr. Sharma said a total of 5,093 persons had died of the infection during April and May, which comprised 6.12% of the 83,188 deaths reported during the period.

The three teams, which will certify the fatalities on the basis of sample sizes in different districts, will be headed by Additional Director (Rural Health) Ravi Sharma, State Nodal Officer (Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme) Praveen Aswal and Joint Director (Gazetted) Sushil Parmar. They will submit their reports to the State government within 15 days.

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Printable version | Jul 24, 2021 2:27:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/covid-19-rajasthan-to-move-supreme-court-for-global-vaccine-tenders-by-centre/article34660035.ece

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