Serum Institute of India chief Adar Poonawalla on Wednesday said that the price of Covishield for state governments was reduced from Rs 400 to Rs 300 per dose with immediate effect.

“As a philanthropic gesture on behalf of Serum Institute of India, I hereby reduce the price to the states from Rs 400 to Rs 300 per dose, effective immediately,” Poonawalla tweeted. “...this will save thousands of crores of state funds going forward. This will enable more vaccinations and save countless lives.”

On April 21, the Serum Institute of India chief had announced that the Covishield vaccine will be sold to states at Rs 400 per shot and at Rs 600 per dose to private hospitals. Bharat Biotech set the price of its Covaxin shot at Rs 600 per jab for state governments and Rs 1,200 for private hospitals. But both vaccines will be priced at Rs 150 per dose for the central government.

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India, which is reeling under the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, has been inoculating its population with Covishield and Covaxin.

On April 19, the health ministry said that vaccine manufacturers will now have to allot 50% of the doses produced to the Centre. The manufacturers will be allowed to sell the remaining 50% to state governments and private organisations in the open market.

The Centre’s quota of vaccines is used to inoculate those above 45 years of age, free of cost. The third phase of India’s vaccination drive will open for all adults from May 1.

Meanwhile, the state governments have raised objections against differential pricing of vaccines and on having to procure the shots at open market prices to inoculate those in the age group of 18-45.

But the Centre has dismissed these arguments as patently false. “The actual situation is that states are getting one guaranteed channel of free vaccine supply, while it can simultaneously procure vaccines from another channel as per its aspirations and commitment to its people,” Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said.