Punjab minister mocks Sukhbir Badal, says SAD leader took 'vaccine worth Rs 62,000'

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Chandigarh, May 27 (PTI) Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu on Thursday mocked SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal, claiming that the former deputy chief minister got a 'vaccine worth Rs 62,000' administered after he tested positive for COVID-19.

Sidhu's remarks were in response to Badal's criticism of the Punjab government over vaccine procurement.

The minister did not elaborate but appeared to be referring to the recently-introduced Roche's antibodies cocktail drug priced at Rs 59,750 per dose launched for restricted emergency use.

However, the drug was not available in the country when Badal had tested positive for COVID-19 in March.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Tuesday said when the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) was able to procure Covaxin doses within one week of placing the order then why the Amarinder Singh-led dispensation could not do so.

'He (Badal) is completely wrong in saying this,' Sidhu charged.

Badal had also alleged that the Congress-led government lacked the intention to procure vaccines for people of the state.

'Do not compare Sukhbir Singh Badal with the state government,' he said.

'Sukhbir Badal had got himself administered a vaccine worth Rs 62,000. Did he get a jab worth Rs 62,000 administered to the people of Punjab,' Sidhu asked.

The health minister welcomed the SGPC for coming forward to assist in the fight against COVID-19.

The SGPC, which is to start a vaccination drive next week, has also set up some Covid care centres in the state.

On the issue of black fungus or mucormycosis, Sidhu said that the state government could get only 1,000 injections against the demand for 15,000 doses raised with the Centre, which were insufficient.

'We are putting pressure on the central government to give us more injections,' he said.

To a question on vaccines, the minister said that Punjab was facing a shortage of the vaccine.

'We are not getting that much supply of vaccine doses which match our requirements which is a matter of concern. Every day we go hand to mouth,' said Sidhu.

Around 47 lakh people have been vaccinated so far, he said.

To another question on wastage of vaccines, Sidhu said, 'There can be-one-and-a-half per cent wastage. They (Centre) themselves say 10 per cent. But we are not going to allow any wastage, which is like expiry date or anything else. If there is a breakage in any injection then it is a separate issue. Otherwise, we do not allow any wastage.' PTI CHS VSD KJ