'Despite price slash, states to pay double that of Centre for COVID vaccine': Abhishek Banerjee

KOLKATA: Senior Trinamool Congress leader Abhishek Banerjee on Wednesday said that the price of COVID-19 vaccine for states has been reduced by Rs 100, but still they are forced to part with double the amount of what the Centre will pay to the manufacturer.

Serum Institute of India (SII) — the maker of Covishield, the most used vaccine against coronavirus in the country — on Wednesday announced a cut in price of the jab it plans to sell to states to Rs 300 per dose from the earlier Rs 400.

This follows widespread criticism of its pricing policy as it has sold the initial doses of Covishield to the central government at Rs 150 per dose.

“After great embarrassment over vaccine prices, the Centre has reduced it for the states from Rs 400 to Rs 300. However, the Centre is still procuring the vaccines for Rs 150, and the states have been forced to pay double the amount. This differentiation is unjustified,” the TMC MP from Diamond Harbour tweeted.

“Is the PM creating this unjust difference because 63% of India never voted for him?” he asked.

Banerjee, the president of the youth wing of the Trinamool Congress, also alleged that the Narendra Modi government “is looting the states and taking cut money from vaccines meant to save the people of our country from this devastating pandemic”.

Interestingly, the BJP during the election campaigning in the state has repeatedly alleged that people of West Bengal have to pay “cut money” (bribe) to get government benefits under the TMC regime.

Banerjee also demanded one price for vaccines for the entire country.

The SII, which manufactures the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine at Pune, had on April 21 announced a price of Rs 600 per dose for private hospitals and at Rs 400 for state governments and for any new contract by the Centre.