May 02, 2021

Ban Profiteering on Vaccine, Oxygen & Essential Medicines

THE Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), in a press note issued on April 24, 2021, denounced the vaccine policy of the government of India, putting profit over the precious lives of people in the wake of the severe health emergency following  the second wave of Covid -19 pandemic. The inefficiency, negligence, and cruel insensitivity of the Modi led BJP government towards peoples’ miseries, which wasted one precious year only with sound-bites to media instead of making adequate preparations by strengthening/expanding the public health system and vaccine production has created this alarming situation, throwing the lives of the people in total jeopardy.

When it is of utmost importance to regulate the vaccination process, scale up the vaccine production, and import and go for universal free vaccination drive on a war footing for the 138 crore population,  the government is shamelessly succumbing to international drug mafia for their profiteering. The new vaccine policy is an effort to liberalise the vaccine sale by deregulating the prices through a discriminatory process that too without taking any concrete measures for augmenting supply and availability.

The statement said, in our country, so far the vaccinations were free and universal. At a time when the states are not given the promised doses of vaccines which have severely affected the first phases of vaccinations itself, through the new policy Modi government has ordered that the state governments have to procure the vaccines from the open market at a higher price of Rs 400. They will be thrown into unhealthy competition with each other and also with the private sector hospitals which are also free to procure the vaccines at Rs 600 (as of now). The vaccine company head has already made a statement that Rs.1,000 per dose will be justifiable! In European Union nations the price of one dose of Covishield vaccine is 1.78 Euro (Rs 160) only. In the US the price is $4 (Rs 300). In India, the government always puts the profit over people.

This deregulation along with the permission to import various vaccines will facilitate hoarding and black marketing which is already going on in the case of essential medicines like Remdesivir and oxygen. This policy will exclude an overwhelming majority of the people who cannot afford the huge price. This move is a naked example of profiteering at the cost of the lives of the people.  
CITU demands the government to withdraw the new pro-corporate as well as discriminatory vaccine policy and take immediate measures to ensure 100 per cent procurement of the vaccine, adequate supply of vaccines to the states, free of cost, utilising the PM care fund. The government sufficiently empowered by Disaster Management Act must not abdicate its responsibility of prioritising protection of the lives of the people during this grave pandemic, over profiteering by vaccine-pharmaceutical barons. The government must take a break from its mindless privatisation drives and instead strengthen the existing public sector medicine and oxygen production units and establish new ones to ensure universal and comprehensive public health care.
The LDF government of Kerala has set an example with efficient management of the Covid cases and by declaring free vaccine to all the people.

CITU calls upon the working class and its affiliated unions and various committees in particular to unitedly protest against the anti-people vaccine policy of the Modi government demanding universal free vaccination for all within a definite time frame.