Pak, Bangladesh Giving Booster Dose For Free, Why Not India? Cong Slams Centre

New Delhi: Terming the Centre’s decision to administer the Covid-19 booster dose only at private hospitals as ‘absurd’, the Congress on Saturday accused the government of ‘discriminatory’ behaviour and ‘gross injustice’ to the poor and rural population of the country.

The Union Health Ministry in a statement issued on Friday said that the people above 18 years of age who have completed nine months after the taking the second dose will be eligible for precaution dose at private centres, which charge for the vaccines.

Questioning the decision, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi pointed out that even countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan have been administering booster shots free of cost and accused the government of allowing profiteering by permitting the private bodies to ‘sell’ the booster dose.

“Why administer this booster dose only through private hospitals and have no option of getting it through government hospitals. Does it make sense? Is this a reasonable policy that government hospitals will not deal with this 18-60 years category,” news agency PTI quoted Singhvi as saying.

The Congress leader further alleged that the private sector will earn crores of rupees at the cost of Indians who are already reeling under high prices and inflation.

“The selling of booster dose vaccines for the 18-60 age group by private companies and entities has exposed the cruel, the cunning and the callous nature of the BJP government,” Singhvi said, adding, “The decision on privatisation of booster vaccine is bitter, brutal and barbarous. Unfortunately, the central feature of this new policy is discrimination by design.”

Speaking at a press conference on Saturday, the Congress spokesperson further said, “Should the government be discharging its duty in this manner by transferring the buck? Is this fair? Is this segregation? Is it creating two Indias? Is it creating discrimination? What is the sense behind this absurd policy, after already the price levels at which we are standing?”

Notably, the Centre is continuing the free inoculation drive through government vaccination centres for the first two doses as well as the precaution dose to healthcare workers, frontline workers and those above 60 years.

Meanwhile, just a day prior to the booster shots of Covid-19 vaccine made available for the adult population in India, the prices of Covishield and Covaxin at the private hospitals have been slashed by more than half.

It has been decided that the price of both the vaccines will now be Rs 225. Before the revision of the rate, Covishield was available at Rs 600 while the price of Covaxin was Rs 1200.

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