The Serum Institute of India on Wednesday announced that its Covid-19 vaccine Covishield will be sold at Rs 400 a shot to state governments and Rs 600 to private hospitals.
“Considering the global vaccine prices, we are ensuring that our vaccines are affordable in comparison to any other vaccines in the world,” Adar Poonawalla, the chief executive officer of the Serum Institute, said in a statement.
Poonawalla told CNBC-TV18 that the company will sell Covishield doses to Centre at Rs 400 per dose once the current purchase order ends. Earlier, the Centre used to get it at Rs 150 each, making it the cheapest available option if one gets a shot from a government hospital.
The Pune-based Serum Institute said its vaccines will still be more affordable than foreign-made ones, which cost anywhere from Rs 750 to Rs 1,500 a shot. The company added that supplying the vaccine independently to corporates would be challenging. It urged companies and individuals to get the shots through states and private hospitals.
Poonawalla said his firm has borrowed money from banks to begin the ramp up of vaccine production. “The Rs 3,000 crore amount we keep seeing in the media has been sanctioned,” he told NDTV. “We believe it will come to us very soon. We have not waited but borrowed from the banks to get on with the ramp-up, with the assumption that this funding from the government will reach us very soon...this week.”
The Centre has reportedly announced Rs 4,500 crore to ramp up Covishield and Covaxin production.
The Serum Institute chief said there was no clarity on the export of vaccines, adding: “We also right now feel that we should not look at exports for two months during these [surge in Covid-19] cases. Maybe in June-July, we could start looking at small exports starting again. Right now, we are going to prioritise the needs of the nation first.”
He also said that the United States’ ban on export of raw materials for coronavirus vaccines will not affect Covishield prices but may “affect the stockpiling of Covovax [a protein-based vaccine of the Serum Institute]”.
Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh criticised the Narendra Modi government after the Serum Institute announced the vaccine cost. Assuming that the Centre will get the dose for Rs 150 and states at Rs 400, he said it was not cooperative federalism.
“This will bleed dry the already reeling state finances,” Ramesh tweeted. “Atrocious. We demand one nation, one price for Centre and state governments.”
Amid a massive surge in infections, the government has allowed vaccination of all persons above the age of 18 from May 1. Under the third phase of the inoculation drive, vaccine manufacturers can sell half their vaccines to state governments and the private hospitals. The Centre said it will provide vaccines free of cost for only the first 30 crore vulnerable persons. After that, vaccines will not be subsidised as they are being at present.
The Centre had asked manufacturers to declare prices for 50% supply that would be available to state governments and in the open market before May 1. Bharat Biotech is yet to announce the price for Covaxin.