After a big political uproar over the Punjab government’s order that attracted allegations of profiteering from “one-time limited vaccine doses to 18-44 age group population through private hospitals”, the order has been withdrawn. The order for withdrawal of the stock was given on June 4 (Friday).
The order of providing one time limited vaccine doses to 18-44 years age group population through private hospitals is withdrawn. Private hospitals should return all vaccine doses available with them: Punjab Government pic.twitter.com/BXnNVgiB8o— ANI (@ANI) June 4, 2021
A letter signed by Vikas Garg, the state-in-charge for vaccination, said the order “has not been taken in the right spirit and is hereby withdrawn”.
“Further, it has been decided that the private hospitals should return forthwith all the vaccine doses available with them. The doses which they have utilised as of date should also be returned, once they get supplies from the manufacturers,” the order added.
Principal Secretary Hussan Lal said the government had supplied 40,000 doses and only 1,000 were administered by private hospitals. “We have taken back the remaining stock,” he said.
Union Health Ministry seeks response from Punjab Govt over allegation of ‘vaccine profiteering’
Just hours before, the Union Health Ministry had requested a response from the state. Referring to a report by NDTV, dated June 4, 2021, which stated that the Congress government in Punjab sold Covaxin bought by the state to private hospitals and earned Rs 600 per dose in the process, the Union Health Ministry requested the Punjab Government to confirm the veracity of the news.
The Union Health Ministry had told the state govt that the profiteering is against the Liberized Pricing and Accelerated National Covid-19 Vaccination Policy. They had sought immediate response from the state government over the matter.
Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal was the first to bring the matter to the fore
The NDTV report was based on a Tweet by Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Badal, who said Thursday stated that “vaccines procured at Rs 400 per dose (are being) sold to private hospitals for RS 1,060” – a “hefty margin” of Rs 660 per dose.
The Akali Dal leader had questioned Rahul Gandhi, who had batted for free vaccines for all. He asked the Congress leader to answer why a common man is being forced to pay Rs 6,000 to Rs 9,000 for a single vaccine dose for his family in his party ruled state. “He should tell if he supports Punjab govt decision to force ppl to get vaccine doses for Rs 1560”, Tweeted Sukhbir Singh Badal.
.@RahulGandhi who has demanded free vaccines for all should tell what he has to say to a common man forced to pay Rs 6,000 to Rs 9,000 for a single vaccine dose for his family. He should tell if he supports Punjab govt decision to force ppl to get vaccine doses for Rs 1560. 3/4 pic.twitter.com/XTCzajRhyU— Sukhbir Singh Badal (@officeofssbadal) June 3, 2021
It is pertinent to note here that the Punjab Congress administration has been accused of profiting Rs 660 per dosage by selling government-supplied vaccinations to private clinics in the state under the guise of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). In addition, because the consumer pays Rs 1,560 for each jab, the private hospital makes a profit of Rs 500 for every injection.
According to reports, the Punjab government supplied at least 20,000 vials of Covaxin to private hospitals throughout the state under the guise of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at a cost of Rs.1,060 per dosage. It was sold from a batch of one lakh vials procured by the govt at the rate of Rs 400 per dose, the rate fixed by Bharat Biotech for state governments.
The state govt has justified the higher price charged from private hospitals by saying that they would have to pay that price if they had purchased the vaccine from the manufacturer directly.