Hours after the Serum Institute of India (SII) issued fresh prices of its Covishield vaccine, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee questioned its disparity in pricing for the State and private hospitals.
While responding to a question during a press conference over SII’s fresh vaccine price, Banerjee said, “I will write a letter to the Centre for its intervention over disparity in pricing for State and private hospitals. Why will there be differences in pricing? Is it time for doing business? It’s not. It’s time to save people’s lives as they are suffering due to Covid-19.”
Mamata’s reaction came after SII has issued fresh prices of its Covishield vaccine. While the State governments can acquire the vaccines at a price of Rs 400 per dose, the private hospitals will get the vaccines at the price of Rs 600 per dose.
“So far, we have administered 93 lakhs Covid-19 vaccines in West Bengal and created Rs 100 crore fund for universal vaccination in the State. We have asked for 1 crore additional Covid-19 vaccines from the Centre,” she said.
On managing Covid-19 crisis in the State, she said, “We are increasing beds at safe homes and in Covid hospitals. We are working to ease the oxygen crisis and talks are on with the service providers. The Election Commission (EC) should have clubbed the last few phases of elections due to rising Covid cases. We will request the EC to allow Covid patients to cast votes through postal ballot.”
When asked about any possibility of lockdown, she said, “No proposal for any lockdown in West Bengal. Lockdown will not happen in the State. Last year, people already suffered a lot due to lockdown. Therefore, we have decided to work effectively to contain the virus to avoid lockdown.”
On April 20, Mamata Banerjee termed Centre’s ‘universal vaccine policy’ decision from May 1, 2021 onwards as ‘hollow’ promise, ‘without substance’ and a ‘regrettable show of evasion of responsibility’ at the time of crisis.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mamata accused the Centre for shying away from its responsibility for making available vaccines to the people of the country.
Her letter reads, “I am informed that the Central government has announced the much delayed ‘universal’ vaccine policy on April 19, 2021, which appears to be hollow, without substance and a regrettable show of evasion of responsibility by the Central government at the time of crisis. Now when the number of cases in the second wave of Covid is spiralling like anything, the Centre has chosen to tactically indulge in empty rhetoric and shy away from its responsibility for making available vaccines to the people of the country.”
Mamata claimed that the Centre’s announcement (universal vaccine policy) lacks safety and quality assurance norms while handling the Covid-19 crisis.