Cong MP Bajwa urges Punjab CM to probe alleged vaccine 'sale' to pvt hospitals

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New Delhi, Jun 4 (PTI) Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Pratap Singh Bajwa on Friday wrote to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh demanding an inquiry into the allegation of the state government 'selling' to private hospitals vaccine doses meant to be administered free.

Under flak from the opposition for 'diverting' Covid vaccines to private hospitals to make a profit, 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' the doses to private hospitals.

The Centre too wrote to the state government, seeking clarification over reports that it sold Covaxin to private hospitals and earned a profit.

'I urge you to open an inquiry into this and ensure that within a short stipulated time, whoever were the architects of this callous policy are held responsible by the government and strong action be taken against them,' Bajwa said in a letter to the chief minister.

The former Punjab Congress chief said the alleged sale of 40,000 doses of vaccine to private hospitals at Rs 1,060 a dose was 'uncalled for' at a time when the state is facing a shortage of jabs.

'This policy is absolutely uncalled for especially in the middle of this second wave. There is a shortage of vaccines across the country and even more so in Punjab,' he said.

Bajwa said the Punjab government received 1.14 lakh doses of Covaxin on May 27 after the stock of Covishield vaccine doses was exhausted. 'Given the low numbers of people being vaccinated across the nation, the focus of the state government should have been to use these doses to vaccinate the masses. By looking to profit by selling over one-third of doses received to private hospitals, the Punjab government has in effect failed in its duty to the people of the state. 'The state government made a profit of Rs 2,64,00,000 through these sales. What was the purpose of this profit? Furthermore, private hospitals have fixed a price of Rs 1,560 a dose. It is extremely distressing that in the middle of the pandemic there are those who wish to make money instead of protecting the health of the people,' he said.

Earlier in the day, Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu said he has ordered a probe into the allegations.

Hours later, the state government issued the new order, withdrawing 'one-time' instructions to private hospitals to vaccinate people in the 18-44 years category.

Now, the recalled vaccine doses will be administered free to this age group by the government, the minister told the media. PTI SKC NSD NSD

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