The BJP has launched a scathing attack on Congress over the controversy of the Punjab Government selling COVID-19 vaccines to private hospitals at high prices which in turn charged exorbitant prices to consumers. The order allowing the sale of vaccines to private hospitals has now been withdrawn by the Punjab Government after facing a backlash by Opposition parties in the state.
‘Punjab Government admits wrongdoing’: Hardeep Singh Puri
Speaking on the issue, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri opined that by withdrawing the order, the Congress in a way has admitted to wrongdoing. Hardeep Singh Puri nudged the Punjab Government to reveal how the order was passed in the first place.
Mahamari me Munafakhori: Anurag Thakur
Union Minister Anurag Thakur on Friday also lashed out at the Punjab Government over the issue of the sale of vaccines at exorbitant prices, accusing Congress of not sparing the pandemic to make money.
“Profiteering during the pandemic (Mahamari me Munafakhori aur Kaalabazari), Pandemic Premium – Congress is known for such things. When the entire country is struggling to save lives, Congress-led governments are finding ways to mint money,” Anurag Thakur said while adding that people of Punjab are being given vaccines for Rs 3000 for two doses when the cost per dose of vaccine is Rs 400.
Speaking of the order being withdrawn, he asked, “Tomorrow if the Congress government repays the money it has looted over the years, will that absolve the Congress of its corruption? If a robber returns the robbed items, will he be forgiven for his crime?”
Speaking to ANI on the administration of Congress-led Governments amid the pandemic, he further highlighted the incidents of hundreds of unused vaccine vials found in the dustbin outside COVID-19 hospitals in Rajasthan where Congress is in power. He slammed Rahul Gandhi’s “tweeting politics” against the Centre over the COVID-19 vaccination when the vaccines were being wasted in Rajasthan. He also pointed out the issue of “ventilators provided under the PM CARES biting the dust in hospitals in Punjab but weren’t used to saving lives”.
COVID-19 vaccines sold for 3 times the cost to people
Reports stated that Covaxin doses procured by the Punjab Government at Rs 420 per dose were being sold to multiple private hospitals for Rs.1060 per dose. The Akali Dal supremo Sukhbir Singh Badal accused the Punjab government of selling vaccines to private hospitals for Rs 1060, who are charging people Rs 1560/dose. Badal claimed that vaccines were being diverted to private players at hefty margins to create an artificial shortage.
The vaccines were procured directly by the state government for people aged between 18 and 44 having co-morbidities, for construction workers and families of healthcare workers in government vaccination centres, however, the private hospitals are reportedly administering the doses to all adults at Rs.1560 each. The vaccines sold to private hospitals were a part of the 1.14 lakh COVAXIN doses which Punjab received on May 27.
After facing the backlash, the Punjab Government has withdrawn the order of providing one-time limited vaccine doses to 18-44 years age group population through private hospitals and has directed the hospitals to return all the vaccine doses available with them. Meanwhile, Punjab Health Minister BS Sidhu denied having any knowledge of the alleged sale of vaccines to private hospitals in Punjab. Steering clear of the controversy, he maintained that he only looked after treatment, testing, sampling of COVID-19 & vaccination camps and that he ‘had no control over vaccine sale’. He assured an enquiry into the issue.