Chandigarh | Jagran News Desk: The department of health and family welfare of the Punjab government on Friday issued a notification withdrawing its earlier order to supply one-time limited doses of COVID-19 vaccines for 18-44 years age group via private hospitals. The notification also ordered private hospitals to return all the COVID-19 vaccine doses available with them.

"The order of providing one-time limited vaccine doses to 18-44 years age group population through private hospital has not been taken in the right spirit and is hereby withdrawn. Further, it has been decided that the private hospitals should return forthwith all the vaccine doses available with them. The doses which they have not utilized as of date should also be returned back, once they get direct supplies from the manufacturers," read the Punjab government’s notification.

It also added that the amount deposited by the private hospitals in the COVID-19 vaccine fund shall be refunded to them.

The move comes after Punjab’s opposition party Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Thursday accused the state’s Congress government to “divert” the COVID-19 vaccines to private hospitals for a hefty margin.

Demanding a probe into the matter, president of SAD Sukhbir Singh Badal wrote on Twitter: “Akali Dal demands a high court probe into the diversion of vaccines to private players at hefty margins to create artificial shortage. Vaccines procured Rs 400 per dose sold to private hosp for Rs 1060 and are available to the common man at Rs 1560. This is a scam Dr Harsh Vardhan”.

Meanwhile, Punjab's Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu on Friday said that he has ordered a probe into the allegations by the opposition. He added that the matter will be put in front of the Chief Minister.

"Total 42,000 vaccines were given to private hospitals which we've taken back from them. Chief Minister immediately took cognizance of the incident and the decision was fixed. Those who have paid extra price for vaccine will get reimbursement" said Sindhu.

Earlier, BJP’s junior Finance Minister Anurag Thakur also slammed the Punjab government for showing a casual attitude towards people as reported by ANI.

A war of words has been going on between Congress and the BJP over the illicit use of COVID-19 vaccines for personal profit. The Centre has said that it will vaccinate the entire country by the end of December.

Posted By: Sugandha Jha