Biotechnology company Bharat Biotech’s coronavirus vaccine, Covaxin, will cost Rs 600 per dose for state governments and Rs 1,200 for private companies. The vaccine will be priced between $15 and $20 (approximately Rs 1,120 and 1,500) for export, the company announced on Saturday.
“Bharat Biotech is honoured to develop, manufacture and supply Covaxin for India’s vaccine rollout at Rs 150 per dose, which is distributed for free by the Government of India,” Bharat Biotech said in a statement. “We would like to state that more than 50% of our capacities have been reserved for central government supplies.”
Justifying the costs, the firm said that Covaxin is an “inactivated and highly-purified vaccine” that makes manufacturing expensive due to very low process yield. “All costs towards product development, manufacturing facilities and clinical trials were deployed primarily using internal funding and resources of Bharat Biotech,” it said.
All Indians above the age of 18 will be eligible for receiving the coronavirus vaccine in the third phase of inoculation, starting on May 1.
The cost of the vaccine is higher for private companies than that announced by Serum Insititute of India, which is manufacturing Covishield, the other vaccine currently being used in India’s coronavirus vaccination drive. On April 21, Serum Institute had announced that Covishield will be sold at Rs 400 a shot to state governments and Rs 600 to private hospitals starting May 1.
However, the Serum Institute on Saturday said that only a limited portion of Covishield vaccine shots will be provided to private hospitals. The company said that the low price at which the vaccine was initially provided was based on advance funding given by the governments.
It added that the higher price it has quoted for Covishield in the third phase of coronavirus inoculation was due to the need to scale up its infrastructure. The vaccine maker’s comment came after it was pointed out that a price of Rs 600 per dose would mean that Indians getting inoculated with Covishield at private hospitals from May 1 could end up paying the highest price in the world for this vaccine.
This is despite Adar Poonawalla, the chief executive office of Serum Institute, saying earlier that the firm was making a profit even at a price of Rs 150 per dose, The Indian Express reported. The newspaper suggested that the nearly $8 (nearly Rs 600) price of the vaccine is higher than the $2.15 (approximately Rs 160) to $5.25 (around Rs 400) cost the company was charging for a shot in other countries, including in the United States, United Kingdom and the European Union.
In its response, Serum Institute said that the comparison was an “inaccurate” one as the initial supply price depended on the funding provided by countries for “at-risk vaccine manufacturing”. The term refers to the financial assistance given by governments to vaccine manufacturers before the shots receive formal approval.
The Centre has said that it will continue to procure Covishield from Serum Institute of India at a price of Rs 150 per dose, the price it has been getting the vaccines so far. The health ministry added that doses procured by the Centre will continue to be provided free of cost to states, as has been the case since the vaccination process began in India.
Covaxin doses have been used in 9.24% of the 13.81 crore shots administered so far. The safety and efficacy results of the vaccine from its final analysis will be available in June.
Meanwhile, India on Saturday recorded 3,46,786 new coronavirus cases, the third consecutive day that the country set a global record for daily infections since the pandemic began last year. With this, the country’s tally of infections rose to 1,66,10,481. As many as 2,624 deaths were registered, taking the toll to 1,89,544.