As the news of COVID-19 vaccines being on the verge of approval from health authorities is coming up, everyone around the world is eagerly waiting for them to be rolled out so that this pandemic could finally end.
Countries like the United Kingdom, Russia and China have even officially approved some COVID-19 vaccines.
This raises many important questions, considering that we are the second most gravely affected pandemic-hit country behind the USA, like –
- When will we get the vaccine?
- How and when will the vaccination process begin?
- Who will be prioritised first for the vaccines?
- Will the vaccines be provided free of cost as promised by our government?
Just before a virtual meeting with the leaders of all political parties regarding the COVID-19 situation, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted “In today’s all-party meeting, we hope the PM clarifies by when will every Indian get free Covid vaccine”.
Why should the government provide free COVID vaccines?
Mainly because our government promised it!
During the Bihar assembly elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), had promised free COVID-19 vaccines, once available, in its manifesto. Post this, many other states such as Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Assam and Puducherry also announced free vaccines to its people.
At a rally in Odisha, Union Minister Pratap Sarangi promised that all Indians will be provided free COVID-19 vaccines. This claim by BJP has been heavily questioned by the opposition parties.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his address to the nation on 20th October 2020, said that the government will make sure that every citizen of India gets a coronavirus vaccine as soon as it is available.
However, according to Rajesh Bhushan, the Health Secretary, the government never spoke about vaccinating the entire country.
In a recent meeting, Sharad Pawar of Congress demanded vaccines be provided for free. H.D. Deve Gowda, former Prime Minister of India and member of Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S), also pushed for ‘free vaccines’.
However, PM Narendra Modi, in a meeting, said that the Centre would leave it up to the state government regarding the pricing of the vaccine and public health priority.
This decision has raised many questions. Maharashtra Minister and Congress member Nawab Malik asked, “Prime Minister held an all-party meeting and now they’re saying the State and Centre will decide the price. How can it be? In Bihar, they gave an assurance that vaccination will be free. We demand a vaccine should be given to each Indian free of cost”.
Now, if even the possibility of every Indian getting the vaccine is dicey, how can we be sure that the vaccines if provided will be free of cost?
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