BJP on Monday responded to the criticisms of the opposition parties over the vaccination policy of the Centre i.e. opening up of vaccination drive to all citizens in a phased manner. BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra said the vaccination policy was not designed arbitrarily but was "on the basis of medical and epidemiological global protocol".
While addressing a press conference, Patra condemned the politicisation of the vaccination policy by the opposition parties and asked them to unite in the fight against the crisis. Speaking on the politicisation of the differential pricing of vaccines to state governments vis-a-vis the Centre, Patra said, the vaccines procured by the Centre although at lower costs are ultimately being passed on to states in the vaccination drives across the country.
"Centre has not held back any quota of vaccines with itself. It is passing on the procured vaccines to states, hence this comparison of Centre vs states is being done to politicise the issue. I urge all political parties with folded hands, please don't draw this comparison. If States and Centre keep fighting over petty issues then the public at large will suffer. Whatever stock of vaccines the Centre has, it is for you (states) only," Patra said.
Sambit Patra reiterated that, in phase-1 of the vaccination, frontline workers who are at the forefront of the COVID battle, and the elderly population of 60 years and above who also belong to the vulnerable category, had to be vaccinated first.
He noted that the opposition had demanded liberalisation of vaccines, while the Central government decided to conduct phase-wise vaccination with frontline workers and elderly population getting vaccinated first, followed by the 45 years and above with comorbidities and then ultimately the 18 years and above category.
Justifying the Centre's decision, he said, the vulnerable category which is the frontline workers and the elderly population had to be vaccinated first and then the people with comorbidities.
"Nobody has designed this vaccination policy arbitrarily. There is a scientific basis behind the policy and the vaccination drives. India chalked out the vaccination policy on the basis of medical and global epidemiological protocol. The Centre's aim was first to vaccinate the frontline workers who are risking their lives in battling the COVID-19 and the elder population which is more prone to the risk of COVID-19. It was going smoothly but then the issue was politicised," he said.
The vaccine manufacturers have released the price of the vaccines to state governments and private players. Covaxin developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with ICMR and the National Institute of Virology is offered to state governments for Rs 600 per dose while it is priced at Rs 1,200 for private hospitals. Covishield developed by Oxford University - AstraZeneca and manufactured by Serum Institute of India, is offered to state governments for Rs 400 per dose, while private hospitals can have it for Rs 600 per dose.
The Centre will continue to receive both vaccines at Rs 150 per dose which shall be passed on to states for free to continue the Centre's vaccination program. The Centre will allocate vaccines to States/UTs based on criteria of extent of infection (number of active COVID cases) & performance (speed of administration). Wastage of vaccine will also be considered in this criteria & will affect criteria negatively. Apart from state Centre, state governments and private hospitals, even corporate organisations can organise vaccination campaign for their employees by procuring the doses directly from vaccine manufacturers.