“Why are states paying a different price for Covid vaccines,” SC asks Centre

 The Supreme Court Friday asked the Centre to consider the National  Programme for inoculating all citizens against the novel coronavirus free of cost, as the poor may not be able to pay for the vaccine.

A bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud asked how the Centre and states are going to ensure vaccine registration of illiterate people. “What happens to the marginalised and SC/ST population? Should they be left to the mercy of private hospitals?” it asked.

The court also asked the Centre why there were different prices for vaccines proposed by manufacturers — Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech — for the Centre and states. While the Centre is required to spend Rs 150 per dose of vaccine, the states will have to spend Rs 300 and Rs 400 for SII’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, respectively.

The court also sought to know if the walk-in facility for vaccination will continue after May 1. From May 2, the current vaccination drive against Covid-19 will be expanded to include the population between ages 18-45. So far, only those above 45 years of age were eligible for getting the jab.

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