Bharat Biotech on Wednesday dispatched the first batches of its coronavirus vaccine, Covaxin, to Delhi and 10 other cities, NDTV reported. This came a day after the Serum Institute of India sent the first batches of its Covishield vaccine to 13 locations across the country.
Bharat Biotech also sent the vaccines to Chennai, Bengaluru, Patna, Lucknow and Jaipur. Chennai received three cartons with 20,000 doses, The Times of India reported.
The Union health ministry on Tuesday announced that it had signed an agreement with Bharat Biotech for 55 lakh doses of its vaccine. The company will provide 38.5 lakh doses to the government at a price of Rs 295 each, while 16.5 lakh doses will be free of cost.
The government also said during its press briefing that vaccine stores had so far received over 54 lakh doses, adding that the states will get 100% of the doses by January 14, according to PTI.
On Tuesday morning, the Serum Institute dispatched the first consignment of over 56 lakh vaccine doses by air to Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Guwahati, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Bhubaneswar, Patna, Bengaluru, Lucknow and Chandigarh.
Serum Institute’s Chief Executive Officer Adar Poonawalla said that his company has decided to supply the first 100 million [10 crore] doses of its coronavirus vaccine at Rs 200 only to the government. Each dose of the vaccine will then be sold at Rs 1,000 in private markets.
The government has ordered 1.01 crore doses of Covishield at Rs 200 per dose. It plans to buy a total of 5.60 crore doses by April.
The Centre is planning to inoculate 30 crore people in the first phase of the massive vaccination drive, which is scheduled to begin on January 16. This would require 60 crore vaccine doses. Health professionals and frontline workers will get the vaccine for free.
The Drugs Controller General of India had approved Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech’s vaccines for emergency use on January 3. The Serum Institute is the local maker of Covishield, the vaccine developed by Oxford University and pharmaceuticals company AstraZeneca. Bharat Biotech has manufactured India’s first indigenous vaccine candidate Covaxin in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research and the National Institute of Virology.
Experts have, however, questioned the government’s decision to clear Covaxin without the publication of data of its phase-3 human trials.
India on Wednesday registered 15,968 new coronavirus cases, taking the overall count to 1,04,95,147. The country’s toll rose by 202 to 1,51,529. The active cases remained below 3 lakh at 2,14,507 for the 23nd consecutive day, while the number of recoveries reached 1,01,29,111. India’s recovery rate is now 96.51%.