Current vaccine prices in India, including the private sector, happen to be one of the highest in the world, according to a report by the Times of India.
Majority of countries are not making people pay from their own pocket for Covid vaccination.
Initially, the Centre was procuring both vaccines at Rs 150 and supplying them to state governments and private hospitals. The private sector was allowed to charge Rs 100 per dose as vaccination charges. Private hospitals had agreed that Rs 100 would cover the cost of administering the vaccine. However, many hospitals are effectively charging Rs 250-300 per shot of Covishield as vaccination charges.
The cost of vaccine per inoculation at private hospitals ranges between Rs 700 to Rs 1,500.
Last week, a public interest litigation was been filed in the Bombay High Court challenging the different rates for COVID-19 vaccines for the Centre and state governments and requesting direction to the Serum Institute of India (SSI) and Bharat Biotech to sell their vaccines at a uniform rate of Rs 150 per dose.
Under the third phase of the national vaccination drive, the vaccine manufacturers are supplying 50 per cent of their monthly Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL) released doses to the central government and are free to supply the remaining 50 per cent doses to state governments and in the open market, the government had said.
“In a situation where the entire country is gripped with the COVID-19 pandemic, price control by the government is a must and such kind of loot and blackmail should not be permitted," the PIL said.
It further said that the cost difference would also lead to discrimination between different states.
“Experience shows that the BJP-led state governments would be supplied the vaccine by the Central government but non-BJP ruling states would not be supplied and they would be forced to purchase the vaccines at a higher rate," the petitioners said.
The plea requested the HC to quash and set aside the prices declared by the SII for Covishield and by the Bharat Biotech for Covaxin.
It further sought a direction for the vaccine rates to be fixed at a uniform rate of Rs 150 (plus GST) for all the citizens.