Coronavirus: SC asks the Centre why it’s not following the National Immunisation Program policy?
On Friday, the Supreme Court of India asked the Central Government questions on why it’s not following the national immunization program policy in the Covid-19 vaccination drive?
Furthermore, when the manufacturers are selling the COVID-19 jabs for heavy discounts due to bulk orders, then why aren’t the Center purchasing 100% vaccines and leaving the States to fend for themselves. SC Justice DY Chandrachud stated that the vaccines are eventually for the people of the nation.
A bench compromised of SC Justices Nageswara Rao, DY Chandrachud, and S Ravindra Bhat heard a suo motu proceeding concerning the pandemic situation in the nation. Among many questions the bench asked Center on Wednesday to submit complete data regarding the number of vaccines ordered and procured, the number of citizens immunized, and the timetable for vaccinating the remaining populace, coordinating that all significant “record noting” be joined with an affidavit.
In the initial two phases of the Covid vaccine drive, the jabs were free of cost. However, amid the second wave and expansion of the vaccine drive to cover the age group of 18-44 it was observed that the Center took responsibility for only 50% of vaccine procurement and distribution, leaving the private hospitals and the State governments to purchase vaccines at a higher price, the SC stated. The SC, however, told that it believed that it was the Center’s duty and not the states’ to guarantee free immunization for all citizens.
The Court also stated that the enrollment and booking of vaccines through CoWIN app, combined with the current shortage of immunizations, guaranteed that the rich got inoculated first, it added.
Also, to top everything, SC asked that the so-called “liberalized” vaccine policy didn’t focus on prioritizing people with disabilities, co-morbidities, or belonging to weaker sections within the 18-44 age criteria.
Additionally, between 18-44 years old have not only been tainted by COVID-19, however, have likewise experienced serious impacts of the disease, including delayed hospitalization as well as deaths,” it noted.
In the month of May, the Union government in an affidavit stated that the pricing policy would ingrain a competitive market bringing about higher manufacturing of vaccines with cheap costs. The policy was “fair, unbiased, non-discriminatory and based upon a plain differentiating factor between the two age groups (45 plus and those below),” it stated.
The Union government added that it has effectively fixed uniform costs for vaccines in states, eliminating any inter-se disparity between them, it added.
Moreover, the SC stated that “the Union Budget for 2021-2022 reserved ₹35,000 crores for acquiring covid vaccines. Then in the light of the Liberalized Vaccination Policy, the Central government should explain how these funds have been spent and why they can’t be used for immunizing people aged 18-44.”
In a series of questions, the Supreme Court has asked the Center to record a complete road map of the projected vaccine availability till December 31, 2021, The Hindu reported.