TN flags 'unfair' differential price mechanism, urges Centre to supply vaccine doses

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Chennai, Apr 26 (PTI) Flagging the 'unfair' differential price mechanism for COVID-19 vaccines to be procured by the Centre and the state governments, Tamil Nadu said on Monday this places a higher financial burden on states and urged the Centre to supply the doses.

States have a legitimate expectation that the Government of India would supply the COVID-19 vaccine in phase 3, Chief Minister K Palaniswami said.

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of the third phase of inoculation drive covering all over 18 years, from May 1, he suggested Centre 'could also explore alternative sources of supply of vaccine including possible imports to ensure that the vaccine rollout takes place across the country smoothly and expeditiously in the coming weeks.' The Union Health Ministry has announced a new policy to be adopted in the next phase of Covid-19 vaccination in the country wherein states have been given the responsibility to procure and administer vaccine to the people in the age group of 18 to 45, he said.

This vaccine would be procured by state governments at pre-determined prices from the manufacturers.

'This price would be distinctly different from the price that the Government of India has been paying for the vaccines supply. Some manufacturers have already announced a higher increased rate for procurement by state governments,' the chief minister said.

Such a differential price mechanism is 'inherently unfair' since it placed a higher financial burden on states, Palaniswami contended.

'It is also iniquitous since the state governments have considerably less fiscal resources at their command than the central government.' 'Further, since budgetary provision of Rs 35,000 crore has been made in the Budget Estimates for 2021-22 for the Covid-19 vaccination programme, states have a legitimate expectation that the Government of India would supply the Covid-19 vaccine (in) phase 3,' he added.

Palaniswami requested the Centre to procure and supply the entire required quantity of vaccine for administering all groups including those in the age group of 18-45.

Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), maker of the most used Covid-19 vaccine in the country, Covishield, had recently announced a price of Rs 600 per dose for private hospitals and Rs 400 per dose for state governments and for any new contract by the central government.

It currently charges the central government Rs 150 per dose for the existing supplies.

Similarly, Bharat Biotech, the Hyderabad-headquartered firm making Covaxin, had priced its COVID-19 vaccine at Rs 600 per dose for state governments and at Rs 1,200 per dose for private hospitals. PTI SA BN BALA BN BALA