By LE Desk

Kochi, April 27: A writ petition has been filed in the Kerala High Court challenging the Union government’s Liberalised Pricing and Accelerated National COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy which prescribes differential pricing for COVID-19 vaccines.

In his petition, C.P. Promod, State secretary of the All India Lawyers Union (AILU) owing allegiance to the CPI(M) pointed out that differential pricing for vaccines was not scientific. Fifty percent of the vaccines was made available to the Union government at the rate of ₹150 a dose. The price of the remaining 50% of vaccines being made available to State governments and others were left to the discretion of the manufacturers, leaving it to the compulsions of market forces. Thus, the health concerns of majority of the citizens were given a go-by.

The strategy of the Centre was based on the assumption that liberalised vaccine prices would incentivise manufacturers to rapidly scale up their production and attract new manufacturers. Such strategy was erroneous especially when the country was dealing with a pandemic situation. The Centre should have directed the manufacturers to scale up the production instead of liberalising the prices, the plea said, as reported by The Hindu.

The petitioner also pointed out that the Centre should have followed the principles of the decade-old National Vaccination Policy for universal immunisation programmes. As per the policy, the Centre was bound to procure the vaccines from its manufactures at a fair price and distribute it to the States. No reasons had been cited for deviating from this policy.

The petitioner also pointed out that the exclusion of citizens aged below 45 years from the purview of free vaccination amounted to hostile discrimination under Article 14 of the Constitution.

In fact, India was the only country where the pricing of COVID-19 vaccines had been left to the discretion of the manufacturers. The stand of the Central government had resulted in profiteering by the manufacturers through the sale of these vaccines, the plea alleged.

The petition sought to declare unconstitutional the vaccination strategy.

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