Punjab govt asks private hospitals to return COVID vaccine stock after Centre's criticism

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Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu. [Photo/ANI]
Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu. [Photo/ANI]

Chandigarh (Punjab) [India], June 5 (ANI): Amid severe criticism from the Centre and Shiromani Akali Dal for allegedly selling Covid vaccines to private hospitals at higher prices, the Punjab government on Friday instructed the private hospitals to return the remaining available stock.

The development comes after Punjab health minister Balbir Singh Sidhu while responding to allegations by the opposition about COVID-19 vaccines being sold to private hospitals by the state government for profit, assured that he will definitely initiate an inquiry, the minister on Saturday stated that private hospitals have been instructed to return all vaccine doses available to them.

Sidhu along with the Nodal office for Vaccination of the state, Vikas Garg held a press conference and, "Total 42,000 doses of covid vaccine have been allotted to private hospitals and only 600 doses inoculated. We have instructed private hospitals to return all vaccine doses available to them, and the doses they have used has to be returned once they got supplies from manufacturers. We will refund the amount deposited by the private hospitals."

Punjab government also issued a withdrawal order yesterday which said, "The order of providing one-time limited vaccine doses to 18-44 years age group population through private hospital has not been taken in the right spirit is hereby withdrawn."

Earlier Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Singh Badal had raised the issue in Chandigarh on Thursday. He had said, "The covid vaccine is available but the Punjab govt is selling it to private hospitals. Punjab govt is getting vaccines at Rs 400 but selling them to private hospitals at Rs 1060. And private hospitals is administering vaccine on higher prices."

SAD President S Sukhbir Singh Badal will hold a two-hour dharna at the residence of Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu on June 7 to demand his resignation and a CBI inquiry into the unethical and illegal sale of covid vaccine, informed party leader Daljit Singh Cheema.

He stated that all MLAs, Ex MLAs and District Presidents will join the sit-in demonstration.

"We demand the resignation of Punjab Health Minister regarding this matter of which he wasn't aware of. We also demand an inquiry of this matter. Our senior leadership along with Sukhbir Singh Badal will hold protest for 2 hours at his house in Mohali and will demand his resignation and if he doesn't resign then we will request the Governor to dismiss him, it is the biggest scam of Punjab," said the leader. (ANI)