The Supreme Court has called on the government’s paid vaccination policy for those in the 18-44 age group. “prima facie arbitrary and irrational. ”
The court said the Center’s ‘Liberalized Vaccination Policy’, which covers the 18-44 age group, expects to pay them through the nose. It was said that in the first two phases the Center was in the driver’s seat. But during the second wave and the spread of immunization threads to the 18-44 group, the Center provided the basis and took responsibility for only 50 percent of the purchase and distribution of vaccines, leaving states and private hospitals to buy vaccines at a higher price.
This policy change “is, prima facie, “arbitrary and irrational,” a panel led by Judge DY Chandrachud noted Wednesday with a 32-page order.
The court asked if the Center had done a “test of funds” to determine if 50 percent of the 18- to 44-year-old age group could afford to pay for the vaccine.
The court said registration through Co-WIN, along with a shortage of vaccines, ensures that the rich are vaccinated first. Furthermore, the policy of “liberalized” vaccine does not give priority to persons with concomitant morbidity, disability or members of vulnerable groups within groups 18-44. The court said the scarcity may be forcing states to redirect vaccines intended for the 18-44 age group to those over 45.
In a series of instructions, the court told the Center to record the availability of vaccines by 31 December 2021. It ordered the Center to submit within two weeks all “documents and notes reflecting its thinking and culminating in vaccination policy”, together with a statement .
Preparing for the third wave
The court asked the Center to prepare for the specific needs of children in the case of the third wave, in terms of medical infrastructure, vaccination trials and regulatory approval and medicines.
The bench asked for details on the percentage of the vaccinated population (single injection and both doses). “This will include data relating to the percentage of vaccinated rural as well as urban populations,” he explained. The court asked the government to state how and when it would vaccinate the remaining population.
The court also asked for complete data on the history of the purchase of vaccines to date (Covaxin, Covishield and Sputnik V) and asked to specify the steps taken to ensure the availability of medicines for mucormycosis.