Days after Brazil decided to suspend a $324 million contract for Covaxin amid allegations of irregularities in the deal, the Congress on Friday raised several questions over the agreement and demanded that the government order a probe into charges of graft.
Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said, “It is important for us to raise these questions, because Bharat Biotech may be a private entity, but, public fund was diverted for the development of this vaccine, taxpayers’ money was put into this and which is why we have a right to question- what has happened with that money and why is the Government conspicuously silent on it?”
Pointing out that the deal is now being probed by a Parliament Senate panel of Brazil and two criminal investigating agencies, the party said the “taint comes all the way to ICMR also because it is a co-developer of the vaccine”.
Reacting to the developments in Brazil, Bharat Biotech has already issued a statement strongly refuting and denying “any kind of allegation or implication of any wrongdoing whatsoever with respect to the supply of Covaxin”.
Referring to various aspects of the deal as reported by the media, Shrinate said, “Why is the Indian government silent, when such serious allegations are being raised?
“The question also is that ICMR was slated to get 5 per cent of the profit from the sale of Covaxin. But, allegations are that Bharat biotech was selling to (Singapore-based) Madison Biotech at a lower price and Madison was garnering the lion’s share of the profit. What is the relationship between Madison Biotech and Bharat Biotech? Because these allegations are of a very serious nature and if Bharat Biotech was selling according to the allegations at a lower price then obviously ICMR’s own proceeds get depressed,” she said.
“Why is the Indian Government and the Prime Minister silent on allegations of inflated prices by Bharat Biotech, by its partner- Singapore’s Madison Biotech, which is at the heart of the criminal conspiracy and alleged allegations? What is the nature of the relationship between Bharat Biotech and Madison Biotech, because if fund diversions happen, this makes for a PMLA case, irregularities of lowering your profits, depressing your taxes, is a case of SFIO? Why aren’t those probes being ordered?” she asked.