Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday lashed out at the Narendra Modi-led BJP government, calling for COVID-19 vaccines to be made free of cost for all Indians. The remarks come mere days before India is set to expand it's inoculation drive to include all individuals above the age of 18. Thus far, a few states have notified their intention to make the vaccine freely available.
"Enough discussion has taken place. Countrymen should get the vaccine free of cost - end of story. Do not make India a victim of the BJP system!" he tweeted in Hindi.
From May 1, as the third phase of vaccination begins, manufacturers will be required to supply 50% of their monthly doses to the government and the rest to state governments or the open market. As such, the manufacturers of the two vaccines presently being used in India had recently notified their new rates for the government and private sectors.
Since the announcement, Opposition leaders and critics have lashed out, seeking free or substantially less expensive vaccines for Indians. Late on Sunday night Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had issued a clarification of sorts, stating that the government would continue to give vaccine doses from its 50% quota to the states and UTs for free. These vaccines shall continue to be administered by states and union territories.
The vaccination process through GOI route will continue as before and the entire expense of this will continue to be borne by the Centre. As the eligibility criteria to get vaccinated through this route evolves further, GOI will continue to provide full support to the states to vaccinate all eligible people free of cost. The states, therefore, as per their own priority and commitments, have to vaccinate only those remaining people who have not been administered vaccines either through the GOI free route or through the private route.