Facing criticism over alleged diversion of Covid vaccines to private hospitals at hefty margins, the Punjab government on Friday issued an order for taking back Covid vaccines from private hospitals with immediate effect.
The health minister Balbir Singh Sidhu said that instruction of providing one-time limited vaccine doses to private hospitals has been withdrawn by the state and all these vaccines will be administered free of cost to age group of 18 to 44 years at government vaccination centres.
Sidhu stated that as per information provided by state in-charge for Covid Vaccination, Vikas Garg, about 42,000 doses have been allotted to the private hospitals from which only 600 doses have been administered to people.
He said that instruction has been issued to all civil surgeons that no fresh allotment be made to any private hospitals and the private hospitals should return forthwith all the vaccine doses available with them.
The Amarinder Singh government faced criticism from Opposition parties over selling Covid vaccines to private hospitals. The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Badal said it had re-sold 40,000 doses of Covaxin at “hefty margins”.
Badal said the doses had been purchased at Rs 400 per dose and sold to private hospitals for Rs 1,060 per dose – a “profit” of Rs 660 per dose. The hospitals sold it at Rs 1,560 per dose, he alleged.
Criticising the Captain Amarinder Singh-led Congress government in Punjab for selling government quota vaccines to private hospitals, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Punjab affairs co-incharge and legislator from Delhi, Raghav Chadha on Friday said the Captain government had committed another major vaccine scam, thus robbing the people of Punjab of crores of rupees.
The health minister Sidhu, however, said as Punjab government is committed to provide all treatment services to COVID patients without any discrimination at the government hospitals, vaccination will also be administered free of cost to all beneficiaries.
Captain Amarinder Singh led Punjab Government had already declared in Budget 2021-22 that vaccination to be provided free of cost to every eligible beneficiary and State would bear all expenses for the welfare of the general public, Sidhu said.
The minister said private hospitals will now get direct supplies of vaccination from the manufacturers. He said that the amount deposited by the private hospitals in the vaccine fund shall be refunded shortly.