New Delhi: The Centre's promises of free vaccination appear to be a catalyst for winning elections and dumping people after that, the Progressive Medicos and Scientists Forum, a national association for doctors and scientists, said on Wednesday. The forum released a statement accusing the central government of lending the Covid-19 vaccine drive to private companies rather than ensuring public financing for the programme.
"Rather than ensuring entirely public financing of vaccination, which makes far better epidemiological and economic sense, the government has lent even the vaccination drive to profiteering by private companies by announcing that 50 per cent of all the doses shall now be routed through an open market," the forum said in a statement. "This is bound to lend the vaccine prices to all manner market manipulation for maximising private profits," it added.
The forum further said that now states shall have to bargain with manufacturers for the best price since vaccine shortage is severe. To secure enough vaccine doses to satisfy the demand, it is probable that the states will have to out-bid each other.
"The situation demanded of the Centre to procure vaccine supplies at a much reasonable cost through the public sector and extend liberal grants to the states," the forum said.
On Monday, the centre had announced that everyone above the age of 18 would be eligible to get vaccinated from May 1st. Also, it allowed states, hospitals and industrial establishments to procure doses directly from manufactures.
As the third phase of the national vaccination drive starts next month, the vaccine manufacturers would supply 50 per cent of their monthly Central Drug Laboratory released doses to the central government and deliver the rest to state governments and open market.