Congress leader P Chidambaram on Tuesday slammed the government over its revised vaccine policy. Chidambaram has stated that the new vaccine policy is "heartless" and "lacks vision".
The Centre on Monday announced that people above the age of 18 will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine from May 1. Under the revised policy, vaccine manufacturers will be allowed to release 50 per cent of doses to the open market. This provision will allow vaccine manufacturers to charge higher amounts than Rs 150 per dose which they are getting under the Centre's vaccination programme.
The former finance minister attacked the new vaccine policy saying that it has "no price of vaccine fixed for below 45 years category." He added that young people have been left to the mercy of state governments and private hospitals. Chidambaram stated that the new vaccine policy has no provisions for the migrant workers who have been the worst hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chidambaram said that the states should get the vaccine at the same rates at which the Centre is getting them. He slammed the Centre for not adding any provision of compulsory licensing to its vaccine policy in order to help domestic vaccine manufacturers.
"By liberalising the price of vaccine & not fixing a price for states at the same rate as available to Union Govt, the govt is paving the way to unhealthy price bidding & profiteer. States with limited resources will be at a considerable disadvantage," said Chidambaram.
"States already way down by shrinking GST revenues, lower tax devolution, reduced grants-in-aid & increased borrowing would've to bear this added burden. Meanwhile, nobody knows where the thousands of crores of rupees collected under PM CARES being deployed," the former finance minister added.
The Congress leader added that the new vaccine policy offers no clarity on whether foreign manufacturers have agreed to export their vaccines to India. He stated that the Centre's revised policy has failed to provide funds to vaccine manufacturers for ramping up production in the country.
Chidambaram predicts that the Centre's new vaccine policy will lead to chaos after May 1. Attacking the Central Government, he stated that nowhere on earth has any country left the vaccination drive at the mercy of market forces.
(Edited by Mohammad Haaris Beg)