Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw slams calls for free Covid-19 vaccines at private hospitals


PTI, Mar 6, 2021, 9:38 AM IST

Bengaluru: Biotechnology industry veteran Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw has slammed calls from some experts and politicians to provide Covid-19 vaccines at private hospitals for free, terming them irrational.

The Executive Chairperson of biotech major Biocon Limited noted that people have a choice to pay or get a free vaccine. “So if they want to opt for a private hospital they must agree to pay for the vaccine too”, she told PTI on Friday.

“They are getting free vaccine at any Government hospital”.

The Health Ministry said last week that private hospitals functioning as Covid-19 vaccination centres may recover a charge, subject to a ceiling of Rs 250 per dose. Some experts and politicians questioned this move, pointing to the practice in many countries where vaccination is free in private facilities.

Mazumdar-Shaw said, “Government is providing free vaccines for the poor and rich (at government hospitals). The private sector must cater to the paying population and no one will complain. If people are willing to pay for Covid-19 tests, which are Rs 500-1000 per test, why would they crib for a life protecting vaccine?”.

Congress leader and former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said the government’s decision to allow private healthcare centres to charge Rs 250 will adversely impact the efforts to ensure immunity to everyone and to contain the spread. He claimed that more than 70 per cent of the population will find it difficult to afford the vaccine and may prevent them from accessing it. “This will act as a deterrent for our fight against (the) pandemic and return to normalcy”, he contended, strongly urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi to reconsider the decision and ensure that every Indian is vaccinated for Covid-19 at zero cost.

Mazumdar-Shaw said, “I don’t agree with Siddaramaiah. This is an irrational request from Siddaramaiah”.

“If you want a free vaccine, you go to Government hospital. But if you insist on going to a private hospital, you must be willing to pay also. The private sector has a cost (to bear)”, she said.

“Vaccine companies also want money, no? How can they go on subsidising the vaccine? Opposition is being most irrational”, Mazumdar-Shaw said.

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