The Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Tuesday issued notices to the Secretary Health, DG Health and the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) over the price of the coronavirus vaccine in the country.
A high court bench comprising Chief Justice Qaisar Rasheed Khan and Justice Muhammad Naeem Anwar heard the petition filed by Saifullah Muhib Kakakhel, challenging the inflated price of the coronavirus vaccine.
“The Covid-19 vaccine’s per dose price has been $10 in the international market but it is being sold at over Rs8,000 here,” according to the petitioner.
“The people used to mint easy money in such situations in the country,” the court observed. “Our problems won’t be resolved until we don’t think as a nation,” the bench remarked.
“People are thinking of earning more even in these pandemic days,” Chief Justice Qaisar Rasheed said. “Every life is precious, this vaccine should be available to every member of the society,” the chief justice further remarked.
The petition has sought orders for the government to fix the Covid-19 vaccine rate at a no profit, no loss basis and declare the lawyers, paralegals and their relatives entitled to the immediate free vaccination against the virus.
In the petition, Kakakhel said the lawyers and paralegals were highly vulnerable to coronavirus on the high court’s premises, especially in courtrooms, where they have to sit with litigants on a daily basis. The petitioner also prayed the court to direct the respondents, including the health department, to ensure the immediate vaccine availability to lawyers, paralegals and their families in district courts, high court’s basic health unit or the nearest hospitals, where people are vaccinated against the virus.
The respondents in the petition are the Federation of Pakistan through the federal health secretary, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government through its chief secretary, provincial health and law secretaries, director general (health services), Pakistan Bar Council, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bar Council through their respective secretaries, and Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan through its chief.
The petitioner, who is known for litigation of public interest, said that the rate of Covid-19 vaccine, which had been imported by companies for private sale, had been fixed at a rate, which was rejected by international bodies like Transparency International, which had also asked the government to look into the matter but no action had been taken on it.
The petitioner claimed that since the initial days of the outbreak Covid-19 pandemic, he had observed that thousands of lawyers got infected with the virus and struggled for their lives, while several of them lost life to the virus. He pointed out that in the past around a year, the province had lost precious and noteworthy personalities, including Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth, to the pandemic.
The court issued notices to the secretary health, DG health and the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) and adjourned further hearing of the case.