The price of vaccines will not have any influence on the ultimate beneficiary since the states have already declared free vaccination, the centre submitted bbefore the Delhi HC.
“Thus, it is ensured that the vaccine manufacturers do no profit from public money, the citizens will get both the doses of vaccines, free of cost,” it said
The Supreme Court had prima facie observed that the vaccination policy was in violation of Articles 14 and 21 of the Indian Constitution, for being arbitrary and violative of right to health.
A Bench comprising of Justices DY Chandrachud, L. Nageswara Rao and S. Ravindra Bhat directed the Central Government to consider “revisiting its current vaccine policy to ensure that it withstands the scrutiny of Articles 14 and 21 of the constitution of India.”
There were several aspects of the vaccine policy that needed to be revisited. The Central Government proposed to purchase half of the total quantity falling within its 50 percent quota while the rest, the manufacturers had the liberty to announce the price fixed, allowing the State Government to negotiate their terms. The manufacturers had mentioned a lower price for the Centre and a higher one for the State.
The Centre stated that citizens of all age groups will be vaccinated free of cost. it also states that it has ensured the prices of vaccines are uniform all over country, to avoid any inequality.
According to the Centre, vaccine manufacturers have taken financial risk in developing and manufacturing these vaccines and therefore have the right to take decisions in a transparent process.
The Centre informed the court that both manufacturers, Bharat biotech and Serum institute have declared their respective prices which are uniform for all state governments.
“It is relevant to note that the Central government by nature of its large vaccination program, places large purchase orders for vaccines as opposed to the State Governments and/or Private Hospitals and therefore, this has some consequences and is reflected in the negotiated price,” it stated.