New Delhi [India], June 4 (ANI): Following the withdrawal of the Punjab government order of providing "one-time" limited vaccine doses to the 18-44 age group population through private hospitals on Friday, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Singh Badal called the matter a scam and said a case should be registered against Health Minister Balbir Singh and probed by an independent agency.
Sharing the copy of the order, Badal wrote on Twitter, "Now that the Punjab government has admitted its policy to dole out vaccine doses to private hospitals at a steep profit and allow them to earn similar profits was blatantly wrong it should register a case against Health Minister Balbir Singh and arrest him immediately. The scam should be probed by an independent agency."
The Punjab government on Friday withdrew its earlier order of providing "one-time" limited vaccine doses to the 18-44 age group population through private hospitals after allegations by opposition of "diverting" Covaxin doses at "hefty margins", sparked a row.
A brief letter-- signed by Vikas Garg, the state-in-charge for vaccination-- said the order "has not been taken in the right spirit and is hereby withdrawn".
"Further, it has been decided that the private hospitals should return forthwith all the vaccine doses available with them. The doses which they have utilised as of date should also be returned, once they get supplies from the manufacturers," the order added.
Addressing a press conference, Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu said, "Chief Minister ordered to recall the decision and recall all vaccines which were given to private hospitals, the government will rectify its mistake as soon as possible. The rate was not decided. We will vaccinate people free of cost. Covaxin was given to them. We received through you this news and we returned the order."
"The number of vaccines we received through the centre which we used and in future, we received more vaccine and we will use. 42,000 vaccines were given to the private hospitals but only 600 vaccines are used by them," he added.
Earlier on Thursday, Badal demanded a High Court-monitored probe into the alleged sale of COVID vaccine doses by the Punjab government to private hospitals for profit.
"The COVID vaccine is available but the Punjab government is selling it to private hospitals. The Punjab government is getting vaccines at Rs 400 but selling them to private hospitals at Rs 1,060. And private hospitals are administering vaccine at higher prices," Sukhbir Singh Badal said. (ANI)