Central forces on Bengal poll duty should undergo COVID-19 test, demands Didi

KOLKATA: Terming the Centre’s new ‘liberalised and accelerated COVID-19 vaccination’ strategy is biased in favour of the market and against the interest of people, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make it free for all.

In her second letter to Modi in a week on the Centre’s inoculation policy, Banerjee also said that manufacturers should not do business with vaccines at this hour of crisis.

The Modi government on Monday announced that everyone above 18 years of age would be eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine from May 1.

“I wish to invite your kind personal attention to the recently announced GoI policy on liberalised and accelerated COVID-19 vaccination with Phase 3 from May 1. I am afraid this is highly discriminatory and anti-people.”

“Moreover, it appears that there is a bias in favour of (the) market against common people’s interest,” Banerjee’s letter read.

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Every Indian should get the vaccine free of cost, she said in her communication to the prime minister.

“There is no place for making business by the vaccine manufacturers and instead efforts should be directed towards good of people without discrimination. And also fixing the rate for private hospitals at Rs 600 per dose is not only discriminatory but also unhealthy as it is likely to trigger unscrupulous mechanisms in the market,” she added.

Serum Institute of India on Wednesday announced that its Covishield vaccine will cost private hospitals Rs 600 per dose and state governments Rs 400, a rate which will also apply to central government procurement once the existing contract for Rs 150 a dose ends.

In another letter to Modi on April 20, Banerjee described the Centre’s vaccine policy as hollow and without substance.