Maharashtra’s former Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan on Tuesday slammed the Centre for fixing the COVID-19 vaccination charge at Rs 250 in private hospitals during the second phase when the allocation of Rs 35,000 crore has been made.
Last week, the government had announced that people above the age of 60 and those over 45 years suffering from co-morbidities can avail the vaccine for free at government facilities and for Rs 250 at private hospitals.
Chavan, who on Monday was appointed chairman of the screening committee for Assam elections by the Congress President, said in phase-I of the drive, the Union government had procured 1.65 crore doses of the vaccine at a cost of Rs 210 per dose.
"As per the February 1 budget speech delivered by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Rs 35,000 crore had been earmarked for the vaccination drive. In this amount, at the cost of Rs 210 per dose, more than 1.5 billion doses can be procured and 75 crore people can be inoculated twice, covering almost the entire adult population of the country," he said.
"If budgetary provisions have been made, why charge common people (at private hospitals)?" asked Chavan. He further stated that countries including the US, UK, and Canada were providing free vaccines to their citizens either through insurance schemes or by budgetary provisions.