Punjab Health Minister orders probe into allegations of govt ‘diverting’ COVID vaccines to pvt hospitals



CHANDIGARH: Punjab’s Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu on Friday said he has ordered a probe into the Oppositions’ allegations that the state government has been “diverting” Covid vaccines to private hospitals.

Sidhu made the statement when he was specifically asked about the Oppositions’ allegation.

“What I have learnt through media, I have already ordered for a probe and we will order a proper inquiry. We will keep the issue before the chief minister,” he said.

Without going into the specifics of the allegations, he said he will first wait for the entire picture to emerge.

On the opposition allegations, Sidhu, at the outset, said the vaccine programme is not concerned with his department.

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“The vaccine programme is not concerned with my Health Department and is under the control of Chief Secretary and Vikas Garg, who is the state’s nodal officer for the vaccination drive,” said Sidhu.

He said his department conducts testing, treatment and administering vaccines.

“As much as the supply of vaccines is made available to our department, we have been administering them free of cost in our hospitals and in the health camps which the department conducts,” he said.

Punjab’s opposition party SAD had on Thursday accused the state’s Congress government of “diverting” Covid vaccines to private hospitals at “hefty margins”.

Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal, in a statement here, had alleged that vaccine doses were not available in the state but they were being sold to private institutions instead of being given free of cost to the common man.

He claimed that a Covaxin dose costing Rs 400 to the state was being sold to private institutions at Rs 1,060.

He said the private hospitals are further charging people Rs 1,560 for each dose.

“This amounts to a cost of Rs 6,000 to Rs 9,000 per family for a single dose”.

Badal had alleged that in Mohali alone, 35,000 doses were sold to private institutions to “earn a profit” of nearly Rs two crore in a single day.

He said it was “immoral” for the Congress government to “make a profit” from the sale of vaccines.

“The government was also punishing people by forcing them to cough up Rs 1,560 per dose during a time of economic slowdown,” he alleged.

Badal had demanded a high court-monitored probe into how the Congress government was allegedly creating an “artificial shortage” of vaccines for the common man by selling its doses at a “hefty profit” to private hospitals, the SAD said in a statement.

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