Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal has questioned the silence of the Centre over the capping of the price of Covid-19 vaccines. Speaking to news agency ANI, Sibal lashed out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for leaving it to the states to vaccinate people on their own.
Sibal said that he was surprised that why the Centre is not taking steps to cap the prices of the vaccines.
"If you bring Covishield and Covaxin under Section 3 of the Essential Commodity Act then their prices can be controlled. It is your (government's) responsibility that those who are above 18 years of age should get the vaccine, so why don't you bring the vaccine in it (Essential Commodity Act). If we bring the vaccines under the Act then it will be the responsibility of the central government to fix the price," he said.
"Another provision is that there is also Drugs and Cosmetics Act, under the National List of Essential Medicine. If the government brings the vaccine under Drug Price Control, its prices can be fixed," he added.
"Government can bring an ordinance for Article 370 but not for vaccines?" he asked.
Earlier this week, the Supreme Court asked the Centre to reconsider the Covid-19 vaccine pricing policy, suggesting that it procure all doses at a negotiated price from vaccine makers. The current policy may not be in harmony with the right to public health, it said.
The countrywide vaccination drive was rolled out on January 16 with the inoculation of healthcare workers. The vaccination of frontline workers started on February 2. The next phase of COVID-19 vaccination commenced on March 1 for people over 60 years and those aged 45 and above with specified comorbid conditions. India opened vaccination for all people aged above 45 from April 1 and those above 18 from May 1.
The Centre had in mid-April announced a policy, making all above 18 years of age eligible to get vaccinated from May 1. It has also allowed states and private hospitals to purchase vaccines from manufacturers. While the Centre will receive 50 per cent of the vaccines supplied, states and private hospitals will get the remaining doses.