TAPAN: Asserting that the Centre should not allow differential pricing of COVID-19 vaccines, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said people should be able to avail the shots free of cost.
Banerjee, during a rally here, claimed that the Narendra Modi government, despite having enough money in its coffers, is “reluctant” to provide vaccines free of cost.
Pointing out that Covishield is priced at Rs 150 for the Centre, Rs 400 for states and Rs 600 for private hospitals, the TMC supremo said, “Is it a joke? Why is that one vaccine is being sold at different rates? Vaccines should not be commercialised.
“The Centre has a lot of money in PM Cares Fund but it wouldn’t provide vaccines free of cost. Why couldn’t they (central leaders) do the needful all these months?”
Alleging that “this COVID-19 rage was Modi’s contribution” to the country, she said, “So far, you (PM) have done nothing, you did not alert people or take necessary precautions when there was time. Now, amid the rise in cases, you are asking people to buy doses and get vaccinated!”
Citing Israel, where masks are no longer mandatory, as an example, Banerjee said, “What happened in India? Until recently, the Modi government did not allow states to undertake the vaccination drive on their own, and that has only led to a delay in the process.”
Underscoring that the TMC government has administered 43 lakh doses, she said, “As of now, we are inoculating 40,000-50,000 people every day. The state has sought one crore more shots.”
She gave assurance that her government will administer vaccines for free to people above 18 years of age after May 5.
Banerjee urged voters to rise above religious differences and “prevent divisive forces such as the BJP to gain a strong foothold in Bengal — which is the land of Tagore, Nazrul and other luminaries”.