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17.56 crore free Covid vaccine doses provided to States: Anurag Thakur

PTI New Delhi | Updated on May 10, 2021

Minister highlights, in tweets, measures taken by the Centre to fight the pandemic

Minister of State for Finance, Anurag Singh Thakur, on Sunday said the government has provided 17.56 crore Covid-19 vaccine doses so far to States and Union Territories for inoculation of people of all age groups and 46 lakh doses will be supplied to them in the next three days.

Thakur’s remarks came in response to senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge’s letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to use ₹35,000 crore allocated in the Union Budget to ensure free vaccine for all citizens instead of the current system of multiple pricing for various users.

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Pune-based Serum Institute of India is supplying Covishield to the Centre for ₹150 a dose while to States for ₹300 a dose. Private hospitals are getting it at double the State’s price at ₹600.

Covaxin manufacturer Bharat Biotech has priced its vaccine at ₹150 a dose for the Centre, ₹600 a dose for State governments and ₹1,200 a dose for private hospitals.

Both anti-Covid vaccines are administered in two doses.

‘Convene all-party meet’

Calling for free inoculation, leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Kharge, in his letter said Parliament had allocated ₹35,000 crore in the Budget to ensure free vaccines for all.

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He also urged the Prime Minister to immediately convene an all-party meeting to collectively forge a holistic blueprint to tackle the pandemic Dispelling claims of vaccine shortage in States, Thakur said 72 lakh doses are still available with States and Union Territories.

On further supply of vaccines, he said that “1.5 lakh doses of Sputnik V have already reached India and RDIF has also tied up with local Indian companies for bulk production.” In a series of tweets, the minister highlighted various measures taken by the government to increase supply of medicine and liquid medical oxygen, add more beds and distribute foreign aid to various States to fight the pandemic.

The minister stressed that India is running the world’s fastest and largest vaccination drive and 15 crore people have been administered doses in the past three months.

“Covid vaccines are being provided free of cost by the government of India to those who are 45 years of age and above and to all front line workers,” Thakur said.

GST rate for vaccines

On exempting vaccines from the Goods and Services Tax (GST), the minister said a nominal 5 per cent GST is in the interest of the domestic manufacturer of vaccine and in the interest of citizens. If full exemption from GST is given, vaccine manufacturers would not be able to offset their input taxes and would pass them on to the end consumer or citizen by increasing the price, he added.

“Five per cent GST rate ensures that the manufacturer is able to utilise ITC and in case of overflow of ITC, claim refund. Exemption to vaccine from GST would be counterproductive without benefiting the consumer,” a tweet by Thakur said.

He also said the government has provided full exemption from Customs duties, including integrated GST, already available to all Covid relief material imported by the Indian Red Cross Society for free distribution in the country to help contain the spread.

India recorded more than four lakh cases in a 24-hour span for the fourth consecutive day on Sunday. According to the Union health ministry, 4,03,738 new Covid-19 cases were recorded in the said period, which took the nationwide tally to 2,22,96,414.

The death toll climbed to 2,42,362 with 4,092 daily deaths, as per the data released on Sunday.

Published on May 10, 2021

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