Amaravati: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S Jagan Mohan Reddy on 22 May dashed off a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi protesting the Centre's policy to allow private hospitals to directly purchase vaccines.
Jagan pointed out that private hospitals are charging as high as Rs. 2,000-25,000 for each dose. This is due to the price differential offered to hospitals and the flexibility available to these hospitals to fix the price of the vaccines, he added.
"This makes our vaccination drive the costliest in the world and invites criticism from the public. The vaccine is for the public good and ideally, it needs to be given free of cost or at least at affordable rates," Jagan said.
At present, Andhra Pradesh's vaccination drive for people in the age group of 18-40 is on hold due to a shortage of vaccines under both channels of supply. Only those who are above 45 years are being vaccinated, the Chief Minister said. Jagan explained that due to the non-availability of vaccines, private hospitals are vaccinating people at exorbitant rates.
"Not only is it a disadvantage to the poorer sections of the society who cannot afford to pay such high prices, but it also creates a situation of black marketing of the vaccine, which administratively is a herculean task to control. Making available various options to the public to get vaccinated, in both government and private hospitals, would be a good idea only if there is a surplus supply and availability of vaccines, wherein anyone can choose any mode as per his/her choice/financial capability," Jagan added.
He further asked the Centre to dispense with the supply of vaccines to private hospitals so that the entire stock is available only to both the Central and state governments.