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Monday, May 10, 2021

Covaxin rates: Rs 600 for states; Rs 1,200 for hospitals

The rates, higher than what the Serum Institute of India is planning to charge for Covishield, will mean states will have to pay four times what the Centre will be paying to procure its shots.

By: ENS Economic Bureau | New Delhi |
Updated: April 25, 2021 7:28:27 am
covaxin, coronavirus vaccine, Haffkine Pharmaceutical, india news, indian expressCovaxin has been manufactured by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech. (File)

Bharat Biotech has decided to charge state governments Rs 600 for a dose of its Covaxin vaccine against Covid while private hospitals would have to procure it at Rs 1,200 a shot. The rates, higher than what the Serum Institute of India is planning to charge for Covishield, will mean states will have to pay four times what the Centre will be paying to procure its shots.

It will also export the jabs at $15 to $20 (around Rs 1,124 to Rs 1,499) a dose.

Of the 13.81 crore vaccinated so far, 9.24 per cent have received Covaxin. Its safety and efficacy results from its final analysis will be available in June.

“Bharat Biotech is honoured to develop, manufacture and supply Covaxin… at Rs 150/dose, distributed free by the Government of India,” stated the vaccine maker in its announcement late on Saturday. “We would like to state that more than 50 percent of our capacities have been reserved for Central Government supplies (at Rs 150/dose),” it added.

While those above the age of 45 years can receive vaccines from government hospitals for free, those not a part of the government’s priority group will have to pay for their vaccinations.

It is unclear if they will receive these vaccines for free or at a subsidised rate at state government facilities, as not all states have announced free vaccinations.

“Recovering costs is essential in the journey of innovation towards other vaccines such as Intranasal Covid-19, Chikungunya, Zika, Cholera and others,” said Bharat Biotech.

Incidentally, Covishield, the other Covid-19 vaccine available in India, will be sold to states at Rs 400 per dose and to private hospitals at Rs 600 per dose.

However, the SII said Saturday that “only a limited” portion of the vaccine would be sold to private hospitals for use in vaccinations of those aged 18 years and above.

“The price of the vaccine is still lower than a lot of other medical treatment and essentials required to treat Covid-19 and other diseases,” said the Pune vaccine maker in a statement.

This came a day after The Indian Express reported that at Rs 600 per dose, Indians getting Covishield at private hospitals from May 1 may have to pay the highest price in the world for this vaccine by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca.

This, despite it being contract-manufactured by the SII whose CEO Adar Poonawalla had said that the firm was making a profit even at a price of Rs 150 per dose.

Poonawalla had earlier said that the firm would like to sell Covishield to private hospitals, and that buying more doses than provided by the Centre was an “option” for states.

In its statement Saturday, the company said: “Furthermore, there was an inaccurate comparison done between the global prices of the vaccine with India”.

“The initial prices were kept very low globally as it was based on advance funding given by those countries for at-risk vaccine manufacturing. The initial supply price of Covishield for all government immunization programme, including India, has been the lowest,” stated the SII.

The Pune firm had initially supplied Covishield to the Indian government at Rs 150 per dose.

Once vaccine makers were allowed to set their own prices for states and “in the open market”, the SII announced that it would charge Rs 400 per dose to states and Rs 600 to private hospitals.

Around 50% of the doses produced by the firm will be diverted to the Centre and the rest split among states, private hospitals.

Poonawalla said the rate of Rs 400 also applied to any new orders that the Centre placed.

However, the government clarified Saturday that this was unlikely to be the case. “(The) Government of India’s procurement price for both Covid-19 vaccines remains at Rs 150 per dose. These doses will continue to be provided to the States free of cost,” tweeted Dr Harsh Vardhan, Minister for Health and Family Welfare, on Saturday.

The Rs 400 procurement price would mean the state governments would be paying over $5.30 per dose for Covishield — higher than the $2.15 to $5.25 per dose rates at which other countries have been procuring the jabs either directly from AstraZeneca or from SII.

“The current situation is extremely dire; the virus is constantly mutating while the public remains at risk. Identifying the uncertainty, we have to ensure sustainability as we must be able to invest in scaling up and expanding our capacity to fight the pandemic and save lives,” SII said.

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