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‘Little room for judicial interference’: Centre turns down Supreme Court’s advice on Covid-19 vaccine pricing

covid-19 vaccine


‘Little room for judicial interference’: Centre turns down Supreme Court’s advice on Covid-19 vaccine pricing

Days after the Supreme Court’s suggestion to reconsider differential pricing for Covid-19 vaccines, the Centre defended its decision saying, there was “little room for judicial interference” in such matters in the middle of pandemic.

In a late night affidavit submitted the top court, the Centre urged against ‘Judicial interference’ and said “overzealous, though well-meaning, intervention may lead to unforeseen and unintended consequences”.

“In the context of a global pandemic, where response and strategy of the nation is completely driven by expert medical and scientific opinion, there is little room for judicial interference. Any overzealous, though well-meaning judicial intervention may lead to unforeseen and unintended consequences, in absence of any expert advice or administrative experience, leaving the doctors, scientists, experts and executive very little room to find innovative solutions on the go,” the centre said.

“Pricing of vaccines is not only reasonable but uniform across the country (after) government persuasion with two vaccine companies,” the centre added, noting that several states had announced plans to vaccinate the 18-45 age group for free.

The Supreme Court last week directed the Centre to revisit its COVID-19 vaccine pricing policy, saying it would prima facie result in a detriment to the right to public health.

The apex court said that compelling state governments to negotiate with manufacturers on grounds of promoting competition and making it attractive for new vaccine manufacturers will result in a serious detriment to those in the age group of 18 to 44 years, who will be vaccinated by state governments.

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The bench, headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud had said, discrimination cannot be made between different classes of citizens who are similarly circumstanced on the ground that while the Central government will carry the burden of providing free vaccines for the 45 years and above population, state governments will discharge the responsibility of the 18 to 44 age group on such commercial terms as they may negotiate.

According to the latest price revision, Covaxin costs Rs 150 per dose to the Centre, Rs 400 per dose to states and Rs 1,200 per dose to private hospitals while Covishield costs ₹ 300 per dose for states and ₹ 600 for private hospitals.

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