Pharmaceutical company Bharat Biotech on Thursday reduced the price of its coronavirus vaccine, Covaxin, for state governments to Rs 400 per dose, from the earlier price of Rs 600. The firm said that the decision was taken “recognising the enormous challenges to the public healthcare system”.
The announcement came a day after India’s other vaccine manufacturer Serum Institute of India reduced the price of its Covishield shot from Rs 400 to Rs 300 per dose. The company’s Chief Executive Officer Adar Poonawalla called the move a “philanthropic gesture”.
The two companies had declared prices of their respective vaccines after the Union health ministry on April 19 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 decision was part of the new vaccination policy under which all adults will be eligible for the shots from May 1.
For private hospitals, Serum Institute has quoted a price of Rs 600 for the Covishield jab, while Bharat Biotech has priced the Covaxin shot at Rs 1,200 per dose. Both vaccines will be priced at Rs 150 per dose for the central government. The Centre’s quota of vaccines is used to inoculate those above 45 years of age, free of cost.
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.
Meanwhile, several states have flagged vaccine shortages ahead of the third phase of inoculation. They states have said they will not be able to start vaccination for those in the age group of 18-45 from May 1 for lack of stock. States such as Bihar, Odisha, Assam, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala, Goa, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh have placed orders for vaccines. But, they are not sure if they will get the stocks in time. Gujarat and Maharashtra governments have said they will announce vaccination schedules once stocks arrive.
So far, more than 14.91 crore shots have been administered, while 2.54 crore beneficiaries have received both their doses, according to government data.