Vaccine Prices, Clampdown on SOS Calls, Lockdown: 10 Things Supreme Court Observed in its Hearing Today

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In the suo moto case on Covid-19 crisis in the country, the Supreme Court on Friday quizzed the Centre on its plans on imposing a lockdown, availability of essential medicines, the status of oxygen distribution to states and vaccine prices

Last week, the apex court took cognizance of the issues related to the oxygen supply, drug supply, and various other government policies and measures in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic. This was in light of the rising number of Covid-19 cases in India. On Friday India reported 3,86,452 new Covid-19 cases and 3498 deaths.

The case has been taken up by a bench of Justice DY Chandrachud, LN Rao and SR Bhat. Here are ten points from today’s hearing:

– The Supreme Court asked the Centre if it will announce a lockdown to curb Covid-19 spread, during the suo moto proceedings on the Covid-19 crisis in the country.

– The apex court directed states, the Centre and all DGPs not to take any action against anyone posting a shortage of oxygen, beds or doctors as spreading the rumour. “If any action is taken against such posts by citizens in distress, we will haul the police for contempt,” said the court.

– The SC asked the Centre what was the rationale behind the allocation of oxygen to states. “What measures have been taken to make sure the supply of tankers and cylinders reach the people in need,” asked Justice Chandrachud. The court further inquired about the expected supply of oxygen.

– The Supreme Court on Friday said that the differential pricing of vaccine for the Centre, states and private hospitals is “very very disturbing”. The SC asked the Centre to explain why the Covid-19 vaccine has been priced differently for the states, the private sector and

the Centre.

– SC said the government must consider National Immunisation Programme for various vaccines and must think of providing free of cost vaccination to all citizens.

– The court said that the private manufacturers cannot be left to decide which state should get how much quantity vaccines.

– The court also asked how will the central and state government enable vaccine registration for illiterates or those who don’t have access to the internet.

– The court said that under the existing legal regime, India can bypass the patent rules for Remdesivir by importing the drug from Bangladesh. The court suggested that India take a licence from Bangladesh manufacturer to produce Remdesivir in India.

– The Supreme Court said that doctors and nurses who are working tirelessly to combat the pandemic, “are reaching breaking point and must be paid more whether they are in

public or private hospitals.”

– The court also asked if the government can display the availability of beds in hospitals and if the government has provided any grants and aid to SII and Bharat Biotech, the two leading manufacturers of Covid19 vaccines in the country.

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