A day after PM Modi slammed state governments for their bungled handling of COVID-19 vaccination and took control of their procurement and distribution, the son-in-law of the Gandhi family, Robert Vadra, came up with a ludicrous argument to oppose the move. However, in doing so, he ended up promoting vaccine hesitancy and stoking fears about taking vaccines.
“People don’t know which centre is giving free vaccines. If you are saying that there are free vaccines available, why are you allowing 25% of private hospitals to charge a certain amount? People have no knowledge about vaccine and its complications,” a tweet posted by ANI quoted Robert Vadra as saying.
People don’t know which centre is giving free vaccines. If you are saying that there are free vaccines available, why are you allowing 25% private hospitals to charge certain amount? People have no knowledge about vaccine and its complications: Robert Vadra pic.twitter.com/Yu6VPObKr3— ANI (@ANI) June 8, 2021
Earlier yesterday, Rahul Gandhi had posted a mindless tweet to criticise the centre’s new vaccine policy after PM Modi announced yesterday that the centre would buy 75 per cent of the total production of the vaccine producers and provide to the states free of cost, and 25 per cent vaccination that was with states would now be undertaken by the Centre. He also said that the system of 25 per cent vaccines being procured directly by the private hospitals will continue.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “One simple question – If vaccines are free for all, why should private hospitals charge for them.”
It appears that members of the Gandhi family have decided in advance that they are going to oppose PM Modi, even if their opposition makes no sense at all and could potentially result in promoting vaccine hesitancy. Vadra says people don’t know which centres are giving free vaccine. However, it appears that it is not the people but Vadra himself who is confused about India’s vaccination programme. A cursory glance at India’s CoWin platform would have made him understand where to look for free or paid vaccines.
Here’s how the webpage of the CoWin platform looks like after the user signs in.
The user can register himself/herself and search for vaccination centres through either PIN Code or by the district. Once necessary details are typed in, the portal throws up a list of vaccination centres in the area mentioned. The list can be filtered with the help of various such options such as vaccination group, different vaccines available and paid/free options.
If a user wants to opt for a free vaccine, he/she can choose the “free” option in the list. And for those who want to have paid vaccination, they can select “Paid” and search for hospital centres that are providing paid vaccines in the selected area.
Instead of blurting out inanities on vaccines, Mr Vadra should sign up on the CoWin platform like millions of lesser mortals with no ‘Gandhi tag’ are doing to book their vaccine slots. Additionally, the information about free and paid vaccines, along with different types of vaccines available in India could also be received at nearby community health centres.
Another problematic statement made by Mr Vadra was regarding the private hospitals being allowed to charge for vaccines. In fact, the question asked by Mr Vadra was patently wrong. He asked why the centre is allowing 25 per cent of private hospitals to charge for the vaccines. But this is not the case. The centre is not allowing 25 per cent of the private hospitals to charge for vaccines. They have allowed 25 per cent of the vaccine developed by the manufacturers to be sold to private hospitals, who could then charge for the vaccines, with an upper cap of service charge fixed at Rs 150 per dose.
Giving the benefit of doubt to Mr Vadra, it could be assumed that he was asking the same question which was asked by Rahul Gandhi yesterday. It is worth noting that their objections to private hospitals being allowed to charge charging for vaccines is profoundly misplaced. Mr Gandhi and Mr Vadra here forget that vaccines administered by private hospitals will be bought by the hospital managements from the suppliers/ manufacturers directly and not from the central government. Citizens who do not want to get a free jab at government centres can happily visit private hospitals to get paid vaccination.
Besides, big corporate organisations, private companies, housing societies, and other entities, who are planning to get their employees/members vaccinated, could take advantage of the services rendered by these private hospitals and get them to set up vaccination camps inside their respective premises to expedite the vaccination. This would be done at the comfort of the organisations, societies and private firms, who are ready to pay for convenience.
However, for the Gandhi family members, who are pioneers of freebie politics in the country, allowing private companies to charge for vaccines in lieu of offering services would be beyond their grasp.
Furthermore, Vadra also promoted vaccine hesitancy by alleging that people are still “unaware” of the vaccines and the “complications” arising out of them. For weeks, doctors, scientists, infectious disease experts across the world are repeating it ad nauseam that the only way of defeating the coronavirus is through vaccination. Yet, Mr Vadra sought to fuel doubts regarding vaccines by raising aspersions on them.
Already, India’s vaccination drive is facing roadblocks due to the widespread vaccine hesitancy, especially prevalent in rural India. Therefore, when members of the Nehru-Gandhi family make remarks that encourage vaccine hesitancy, it only adds to the already existing chaos. Perhaps this is what they actually want so that India’s vaccination drive is derailed, and they can lay the blame for it on their bete noire— PM Modi.