Siddaramaiah urges PM Modi to ensure every Indian is vaccinated against COVID-19 at zero cost
Congress leader and former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Friday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to reconsider the decision of the central government to allow private healthcare centres to charge Rs 250 for administering the COVID-19 vaccine and ensure that every Indian is vaccinated against COVID-19 at zero cost.
In a letter (dated March 5, 2021) to Prime Minister, the Congress leader said it is essential to make the vaccines accessible and available to everyone.
"India has approved two vaccines for administration in many phases but the progress is very slow. India has only administered 0.5 per cent or less of the population while other countries are making huge strides to increase the immunity among its people. Israel has vaccinated 36 per cent of the population, the United States of America 6 per cent and the UK 4 per cent. India can progress only when the vaccines are widely available at zero cost to the population," he said.
The decision of the Central Government to allow private healthcare centres to charge Rs 250 for administering the vaccine will "adversely impact the efforts to ensure immunity to everyone and to contain the spread," Siddaramaiah said.
"More than 70 per cent of the population will find it difficult to afford the vaccine and may prevent them from accessing it . This will act as a deterrent for our fight against pandemic and return to normalcy," he claimed.
Leader of Opposition, Karnataka Legislative Assembly said that many countries, across the world, including Brazil, Canada, United States of America and the United Kingdom, have made COVID-19 vaccines free of cost and "it is the right approach to ensure speedy administration to everyone."
Targetting the central government over PM Cares fund, Siddaramaiah said, "Though it is the right approach to collaborate with private health centres, both Central and State governments should take the burden to reimburse. One of the narratives built during the collection of funds through PM Cares was that the funds shall be used to vaccinate everyone at free of cost. The office of the Prime Minister has failed to release the accounts of PM Cares fund and failed to provide vaccination at zero cost as well."
He urged the Prime Minister of India to reconsider the decision and "ensure that every Indian is vaccinated against COVI-19 at zero cost."
The price of the coronavirus vaccine at private facilities in the country has been capped at Rs 250 per dose, which includes Rs 100 as a service charge, according to Central government sources.
The Health Ministry has said that the COVID-19 vaccination will be free of charge at government vaccination centres.
India commenced its second phase of the COVID-19 vaccination drive to inoculate people above 60 years and those over 45 with comorbidities against the coronavirus from March 1.