An enthusiastic interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi took to writing a heavy-worded letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi after his government announced a massive vaccine liberalisation and universalisation programme on Monday. According to the new plan, all adults in India will be eligible to get inoculated against Covid-19. The plan also paved the way for states to deal directly with vaccine manufacturers. The Serum Institute of India (SII), after the Centre’s much-needed announcement, shared its revised prices for the Covishield jab. While states will be sold the vaccine at Rs.400 per vial, the price for private hospitals has been fixed at Rs. 600.
Socialists like Sonia Gandhi, who have a thing for freebies, are expectedly outraged. So, in her letter to the Prime Minister, the Congress president wrote, “I write to convey the deep concern and sense of anguish that the new Covid-19 vaccination policy has caused amongst the people. It is surprising that despite the harsh lessons of last year and the pain inflicted on our citizens, the Government continues to follow an arbitrary and discriminatory policy, which promises to exacerbate existing challenges.” She profoundly asked how the government could permit such “brazen profiteering” by vaccine manufacturers from people’s misery.
Congress chief writes to PM over new #COVID19 vaccination policy for inoculation of people b/w 18-45 yrs of age
Letter reads "Policy implies GoI has abdicated responsibility to provide free vaccination for these citizens…Urge you to intervene & reverse ill-considered decision" pic.twitter.com/5jMypGgTmh
— ANI (@ANI) April 22, 2021
Interestingly, while Sonia Gandhi chose to sermonise Prime Minister Modi and his government over the new vaccine policy, multiple BJP-ruled states across the country announced that they would be providing free vaccines to all eligible individuals beginning May 1. Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Uttarakhand, Bihar have all made it clear that they will bear the cost of inoculating their populations. Gujarat and Tamil Nadu are expected to follow suit soon.
Meanwhile, Chhattisgarh is the only Congress-ruled state which has emphatically stated that it will vaccinate all people free of cost. Punjab has decided to vaccinate people free of cost only in government hospitals. Maharashtra, Delhi, Jharkhand and Rajasthan are yet to make any such announcements. As such, the focus of Sonia Gandhi should be to direct her chief ministers to ensure free or subsidised vaccination for people in states ruled by the Congress or its alliance partners. That, however, would not show the Congress godmother taking on the Modi government. Hence, for Sonia Gandhi, political bickering and hollow rhetoric of vaccine manufacturers ‘profiteering’ out of people’s misery is the only thing that matters.
As a matter of fact, Sonia Gandhi’s claims of SII indulging in price differentiation when it comes to selling doses to the Centre and state governments is false. Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla explained earlier that the company has been supplying Covishield doses to the Centre at a discounted rate of Rs 200 only for the first 100 million vials procured by it. After the first 100 million doses, however, the Modi government had signed another contract with SII to procure an additional 110 million doses at the discounted price of Rs 200. Interestingly, after the said 110 million doses are delivered, the company will charge the Centre Rs 400 per dose as well, which is the same price at which it has said it will sell to the state governments.
Sonia Gandhi must make it a point to be aware of all the facts before she takes to write a contemptuous-toned letter to the Prime Minister of India.