Hours after the Centre opened the COVID-19 vaccination drive to all individuals above the age of 18, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has voiced a few concerns. The Wayanad MP who has been batting for the expansion for quite some time now dubbed this the government's "vaccine discrimination strategy".
Over the last few days, Gandhi has repeatedly hit out at the Centre, urging the government to permit foreign-manufactured vaccines in the country and expand the vaccination drive. And while he'd faced flak from several quarters, both these suggestions had eventually found acceptance from the government. Nonetheless, as India prepares to vaccinate people between the ages of 18 and 45 from the beginning of May, Gandhi is not too pleased with the situation.
"No free vaccines for 18-45 year olds. Middlemen brought in without price controls. No vaccine guarantee for weaker sections. GOI’s Vaccine Discrimination- Not Distribution- Strategy!" he tweeted on Tuesday afternoon.
In the previous phases, COVID-19 vaccines had been available free of cost. And while private centres could charge a token amount, the the government had provided doses for free at designated Centres. From May 1 however, 50% of the vaccine supply will be made available in the open market and to state governments. Private hospitals would have to procure the doses from this portion at prices determined by the manufacturers. Going by recent decisions, if and when foreign vaccines such as Pfizer come to India, they can see their entire supply in the open market at competitive prices.
In other related news, India has, for the sixth consecutive day, recorded more than 2 lakh cases on Tuesday. This takes the total number of active cases to a little more than 20 lakh.