Bhubaneswar: Cutting across party lines, the Congress and BJD leaders in Odisha on Sunday protested steep pricing of Covaxin vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech.
Expressing displeasure, BJD Rajya Sabha member Amar Patnaik said that contrary to the pricing of single-dose Covishield vaccine fixed by the Serum Institute of India (SII), Bharat Biotech with the approval of the Centre has fixed single-dose price of Covaxin at Rs 600 available to the state government and Rs 1200 to the private hospitals which is too high for the people to afford.
“It is a matter of grave concern. We had thought that the price of Covaxin will be the same as Covishield. But, the price fixed is too high which will put immense pressure on the revenue of the state governments,” Patnaik told mediapersons here.
He further said that as the state governments spend a lot of money towards the health care of people, it is not possible to replenish the cost immediately.
“Going by the high pricing of COVID vaccines, how can the health infrastructure of the states improve? Besides, the vaccination programme will not be successful as most people cannot afford the price of the vaccine. The state government can improve the health infrastructure if the Centre bears the cost of the vaccines by procuring them at a uniform price. Considering the above, we request the Centre not to put the financial burden on state governments by procuring the vaccines at a high rate,” Patnaik pointed out.
In his reaction, Congress leader Suresh Routray said the Modi government is playing with the lives of people. “It will cost Rs 2,400 for two doses of Covaxin. The students, poor and middle-class people will die as they cannot afford the price of the vaccine. We want an immediate rollback of the vaccine’s price and urgent intervention by the Centre. The Odisha government should also take up the matter with the Centre and announce free vaccination,” he demanded.
On the other hand, BJP state general secretary Lekhashri Samantsinghar said the company has hiked the price of Covaxin due to the pressure to produce more vaccines within a short time.
However, she hoped that a solution to revise the price of the vaccine will be found very soon.
As announced by the Serum Institute of India, a single dose Covishield vaccine will be available to state governments at Rs 400 and private hospitals at Rs 600.