The Congress party and its leaders seem to have a special animosity against India’s leading industries and crucial manufacturers for some unknown reason. Congress has been relentlessly attacking ‘Made In India’ vaccines. After spreading baseless claims, and rumors about Covaxin, yesterday, Congress and Rahul Gandhi had tried to castigate the Serum Institute of India and its CEO Adar Poonawalla as greedy corporates who are looting the public.
Today, Congress continued its lies. Tweeting from its official handle, the party claimed that the Serum Institute has fixed three different prices for the Covishield vaccines for supplying to the Central government, state governments, and private hospitals.
वैक्सीन निर्माता सीरम ने केंद्र सरकार के लिए ₹150, राज्य सरकारों के लिए ₹400 और निजी अस्पतालों के लिए ₹600 के हिसाब से वैक्सीन की दरें घोषित की है। यानी देशवासियों को टीके की ज्यादा कीमत चुकानी होगी, राज्य सरकारों पर भी बोझ पड़ेगा।— Congress (@INCIndia) April 22, 2021
– कांग्रेस अध्यक्षा श्रीमती सोनिया गांधी pic.twitter.com/3bV3wJERJn
The party presented it as a statement from interim president Sonia Gandhi.
What is the truth?
In a detailed talk with CNBC, Serum CEO Adar Poonawalla had explained that the company has been supplying the Covishield doses to the government of India (GOI) at the discounted rate of Rs 200 only for the first 100 million doses as agreed by both parties, as the SII had promised to supply the first 100 million doses at the lower rate. They had told earlier that they will sell the next doses at the price of Rs 1000.
“We’ve given a special price of Rs 200 for the first 100 million doses only to Government of India on their request that we want to support common man, vulnerable, poor, healthcare workers. After that we’ll be selling it at Rs 1000 in private markets,” the SII CEO had said in January.
However, after the first 100 million doses, the GOI had signed another contract with SII to procure another 110 million doses at the discounted price of Rs 200. After the said 110 million doses are delivered, the company will charge GOI Rs 400/ dose, the same price at which it has said it will sell to the state governments.
The previous low price was a part of SII’s commitment to GOI and some other countries for sharing the risk of production. That is, paying SII in advance even when the vaccine was yet to get approval. This money, obtained as supply credit, has enabled SII to enhance its production lines and keep millions of doses ready when the approval came.
Hence, SII’s announcement of a lower rate for the Centre is only for the 110 million doses, not after that. After the current ‘under contract’ 110 million doses are delivered, SII will sell to GOI at Rs 400 per dose, same as states. Both the center and states will have to purchase the vaccine doses at the same price. SII is selling to private hospitals at a slightly higher price, but compared to other available vaccines, the prices are still very low. The company cannot keep producing vaccines at loss, as Poonawalla had explained.
All the lies misinformation against the vaccine supply, centre’s vaccination drive, pricing and other issues were debunked in our article here.
The central government is buying for states only, a fact that Congress pretends to forget
Moreover, all the procurements of the vaccine doses by the centre are for further supply to the state governments only. It is not like the Union Cabinet is going to sit on the millions of doses of vaccine or BJP ministers are going to drink it. Assumptions that the centre is being ‘benefitted’ or ‘favoured’ somehow by procuring vaccines from Serum at the lower rate are stupid.
So far, the GOI has vaccinated healthcare workers, frontline workers, senior citizens, and persons above 45 years of age in every state free of cost. In the future too, the GOI will keep vaccinating people free of cost. The only difference is, state governments now have the option of buying doses on their own and vaccinate people, as was demanded by many CMs.
Many states like Bihar, UP, Assam, and Chhattisgarh have already declared that they will get doses and will vaccinate people for free. All the doses procured by the center will also be distributed to states only. The Congress’ narrative of the GOI ‘getting vaccines for cheap’ and keeping it away from states are utterly false and malicious.
the vaccines were already being sold in private hospitals at Rs 250, Congress never had a problem
On March 1, when the GOI announced vaccination open for senior citizens and people above 45 with co-morbidities, it was also announced that vaccination will be free in government-run centers all over India, and private hospitals can vaccinate people at a price cap of Rs 250. All those vaccine doses being administered all over India in every state were supplied by the GOI. But at that time, Congress never had a problem with the ‘price difference’.
Many of the Congress leaders, including the party’s top leadership, have been openly critical of Made In India vaccines, and some CMs and senior leaders have even actively spread misinformation against the vaccines. India’s vaccines are among the cheapest in the world, and India is running the world’s largest mass vaccination drive, many times larger than populations of the UK and US. The Congress’ tendency to politicize and fearmonger over an issue as crucial as vaccination against the coronavirus in the middle of a pandemic is one of the worst kind of politics seen in recent history.