Centre, not states, must bear full cost of vaccines: Economist Arvind Subramanian

Centre, not states, must bear full cost of vaccines: Economist Arvind Subramanian
Former chief economic advisor Arvind Subramanian has said that the Union government, and not states, must bear the full cost of COVID-19 vaccines. Calling Indian’s vaccine pricing complicated and politicised, Subramanian also insisted that vaccines must be free for all. “There should be only ONE price for vaccine jabs all over India. That price should be ZERO. So, vaccines should be free for all. Differentiation and complexity are unethical, unnecessary, and difficult to implement. Free vaccines for all will avoid vaccine politicization,” he wrote on Twitter. He said the Union government must bear the full cost of the vaccines, as it has better access to resources compared to states, and as the “virus does not respect state borders.” “Fiscal “costs” are trivial compared to lives saved and economic activity preserved,” he added. On April 19, the Union government announced that vaccination would be opened up for everyone above 18 years of age from May 1, amid the ongoing serious second wave of COVID-19 in the country. The Union government announced that it was liberalising the vaccination programme, allowing vaccine manufacturers to sell 50% of their stock to state governments and in the open market. Since then, Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India (SII), manufacturers of the two vaccines currently being administered in India, have announced vaccine prices for state governments and private hospitals. Subramanian also said that the government should pay manufacturers a reasonable price. “This is not the time for haggling and creating uncertainty for private sector, domestic or foreign,” he wrote. SII, which is producing Covishield, announced on April 21 that it will be selling the vaccine to state governments at Rs 400 and to private hospitals at Rs 600 per dose. It also said that the price for the Union government will remain Rs 150 per dose for commitments already made. The last commitment was for 110 million doses. After these commitments are fulfilled, the price will be Rs 400 for the Union government too, SII CEO Adar Poonawalla said in an interview to CNBC TV18. Bharat Biotech announced on April 24 that it will sell its vaccine Covaxin at Rs 600 per dose for state governments and at Rs 1,200 per dose for private hospitals. In a statement announcing the pricing, Bharat Biotech Chairman and Managing Director Krishna M Ella said that the company is supplying the vaccine to the Union government at Rs 150 per dose, and that more than 50% of its capacities have been reserved for Union government supplies. India's vaccine pricing being complicated/politicized. Three simple principles to follow. 1. Govt. should pay manufacturers reasonable price. This is not the time for haggling and creating uncertainty for private sector, domestic or foreign 1/ — Arvind Subramanian (@arvindsubraman) April 24, 2021 2. There should be only ONE price for vaccine jabs all over India. That price should be ZERO. So, vaccines should be free for all Differentiation and complexity are unethical, unnecessary, and difficult to implement. Free vaccines for all will avoid vaccine politicization 2/ — Arvind Subramanian (@arvindsubraman) April 24, 2021 3. The Center-NOT states-should bear full fiscal "costs" of vaccines. Why? --Virus does not respect state borders. --Center has better access to resources than states --Fiscal "costs" are trivial compared to lives saved and economic activity preserved n/ — Arvind Subramanian (@arvindsubraman) April 24, 2021 Read:  What the government's new vaccination policy means for states and you Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Arvind Subramanian resign: The Ashoka University row explained

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