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States profiteering on procurement of COVID-19 vaccines, claims Hardeep Singh Puri

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New Delhi, June 05: Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Saturday accused the Punjab government of earning profits from the COVID vaccination drive by selling vaccines to private hospitals. The union minister cliamed that Covishield vaccine doses purchased at Rs 309 were sold at 1,560 in Punjab.

Hardeep Singh Puri

"In Punjab, the Covid-19 doses which should be provided free of cost to people were sold at higher prices. Covishield dose purchased at Rs 309 has been sold at 1,560." Puri said on Saturday.

While 1,14,190 Covaxin doses procured at Rs 4.70 crore its average amount is Rs 412, Puri informed media.

Puri said the Centre had distributed 50% of vaccines to states and union territories to administer vaccines to people free of cost.

"States are profiteering on their own procurement. If these (above) figures are true then the real amount of profit is not just Rs 2.40 crore," he added.

The Centre has sought a clarification from the Punjab government following media reports alleging that it 'sold' COVID-19 vaccine to private hospitals and 'earned a profit'.

Prima facie, it is in clear violation of the Liberalized Pricing and Accelerated National COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy, said Additional Secretary in the Health Ministry Vandana Gurnani to the principal secretary of the Punjab government's Health Department.

'As you are aware, from May 1, 2021, the Liberalized Pricing and Accelerated National COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy has come into force. According to this strategy, private sector hospitals are directly procuring COVID-l9 vaccines from the vaccine manufacturers,' the letter said.

'The state government is, therefore, requested to confirm the veracity of this news article and send a clarification to MoHFW immediately in this regard,' she said.

Under flak from the opposition for 'diverting' Covid vaccines to private hospitals, the Punjab government on Friday asked them to return all stock meant for the 18-44 age group.

The dramatic turnabout came after opposition parties - Shiromani Akali Dal, Aam Aadmi Party and Bharatiya Janata Party -- slammed the Congress government for 'selling' to private hospitals doses meant to be administered free.

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