Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday in his address announced a centralized procurement system for Covid-19 vaccines, beginning from June 21, with 25 per cent of the procurement being made available for private sector, as well as free vaccinations for everyone above the age of 18.
“From Monday, June 21, in every state of the country, for all citizens above the age of 18 years, the Government of India will provide free vaccine to the states. Government of India itself will buy 75 per cent of the total vaccine production from vaccine manufacturers and give it free to the state governments.”
Mr Modi also announced a cap of Rs 150 on the amount private hospitals can charge over the cost of the purchase of the vaccine from the manufacturer.
While addressing the nation, PM Modi said, “Starting from January 16 this year till the end of April, India’s vaccination program ran mainly under the supervision of the central government. The country was moving ahead on the path of providing free vaccine to all. The citizens of the country, following the discipline, were getting the vaccine when it was their turn”
“Today it has been decided that the Government of India will also bear the responsibility of 25 per cent of the work related to vaccination with the states. This arrangement will be implemented in the coming two weeks. In these two weeks, the central and state governments will together make necessary preparations according to the new guidelines.”
“No state government of the country will have to spend anything on the vaccine. Till now crores of people of the country have got the free vaccine. Now people of 18 years of age will also join it. Only the Government of India will provide free vaccine to all the countrymen”, Modi said.
“25 per cent of the vaccine being made in the country, private sector hospitals can take it directly, this system will continue. Private hospitals will be able to charge a maximum service charge of Rs 150 for a single dose as a service charge over the fixed cost of the vaccine. The task of monitoring it will remain with the state governments, the Indian Prime Minister said.
The Prime Minister’s announcement comes on a day when the country recorded 1,00,636 new Covid-19 cases, the lowest on over two months.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah hailed the union governments decision to provide free COVID vaccine to everyone above the age of 18 years in the country and said the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government always works towards the safety and health of the people.
“Modi government has always worked with determination towards the safety and health of people. I thank PM Narendra Modi for the historic decision to provide free COVID vaccine to everyone above the age of 18 years across the country.”
Shah called the move an important step towards a COVID-free India.
Opposition slams Modi government
Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala said party leaders had been repeatedly saying that there has to be universal free vaccination for every Indian above 18 years of age.
“The government repeatedly joked about it, rejected it, and ignored it. PM Modi Government has changed its policy three times in six months.”
Surjewala said there was opposition to the liberalised vaccine policy announced by the Centre.
“Now, that the people opposed it again, Congress Party opposed it and Supreme Court bitterly reprimanded them and asked them to file an affidavit, they have taken a third summersault and now said- in government facilities across the country, people above 18 years of age will be given free vaccination by Government of India,” he said.
Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel said the state had earlier announced to provide free vaccination to the people of the state.
“Centre woke up after being pulled up by Supreme Court. Putting blame on states is unfair as they had already asked the Centre for a free vaccination.”
Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury alleged that the central government was tying to defend its “dubious discriminatory vaccine policy” bypassing the buck on to state governments.
NCP leader Nawab Malik said that the Prime Minister took the decision after Supreme Court earlier this month raised questions on the government’s vaccination policy and asked it to file an affidavit.
It’s a late but much-needed step. People have seen the government failing in the fight against COVID. It is an attempt to damage control.”
AAP MLA Raghav Chadha said that the Centre “has finally woken up after “constant gruelling by SC“.
The Prime Minister also announced that the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana will now be extended till Diwali festival in November and the scheme will provide free food grains in fixed quantity every month to 80 crore people in the country.