Coronavirus vaccine scam? Punjab cancels order to supply vaccines to private hospitals

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Coronavirus Vaccine (Image: Unsplash)
Coronavirus Vaccine (Image: Unsplash)

Punjab : Central government pulled up Capt Amarinder Singh-led government in Punjab for selling the Covaxin doses at higher prices to the private hospitals than the one it paid to procure it from the Centre. The state government has been alleged of 'vaccine profiteering'.

After facing flak, the Punjab government has now cancelled the order to supply the coronavirus vaccine to the private hospitals. Principal Secretary Hussan Lal said that the government had supplied 40,000 doses and only less than 1,000 were administered by the private hospitals. “We have taken back the remaining stock," he said.

Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar on Thursday alleged that Punjab profiteered on Covaxin shots by buying them for Rs 400 a dose from the Centre and selling it to 20 private hospitals at Rs 1,060 a dose.

The state government has withdrawn all orders, including one-time limited dose for people between 18-44 age group, and asked the private hospitals to return the remaining doses available.

"A strange kind of politics is playing out in Punjab. The state continues to be affected by Covid. Covid management leaves much to be desired. The required level of government involvement needed for Covid testing is also not there in Punjab," Javadekar said.

He added that internal factionalism has been bogging down the Congress government in Punjab for about six months. "The entire party and the government have been camping in Delhi for the past four days. So who will care about the people? Disregard of the people at the altar of internal party politics is a big sin of the Congress," Javadekar said.

"What kind of people’s governance is this where the state government wants to make profits on a vaccination drive for Covid? And Punjab is charging people Rs 1,500. Government of India has given free 22 crore doses to states till now," he said.

To avoid the complications, the state government has blamed the matter on bureaucrats and ordered a probe in the matter. State health minister Balbir Singh Sidhu said that his department does not deal with vaccine procurement or distribution.