Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) has announced the price at which it wants to sell Covieshield vaccine to states and private hospitals two days after the Centre announced a third ‘liberalised’ inoculation drive from May 1 across the country.
The SII is the largest manufacturer of vaccines in the world.
Bharat Biotech, the other COVID vaccine manufacturer in the country, is yet to announce the price. Dr Krishna Ella, chairman and managing director, Bharat Biotech International Ltd, which makes Covaxin, said on Tuesday (April 20) that he would like to get the maximum price to recover all costs, including the ₹350 crore spent on clinical trials, in order to have money to work on vaccines for all kinds of infectious diseases.
Sputnik V, the Russian vaccine already given emergency use authorisation, is said to be in talks with Dr Reddy’s Laboratories over price. The Russian vaccine’s cost across the globe is around $10 (roughly ₹750).
The Centre’s vaccination strategy now covers people above the age of 18 years. As per the central government plan, vaccine manufacturers would supply 50 per cent of their monthly Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL) released doses to the Centre and would be free to supply the remaining 50 per cent to state governments and in the open market.
Here’s what SII has in mind as far as pricing and the supply of Covieshield is concerned:
SII says it will charge state governments ₹400 per dose and private hospitals Rs600 per dose for the vaccine. Since each person needs two doses, the states will have to shell out ₹800 to procure the vaccine for one person and private hospitals will pay ₹1,200.
The rest 50 per cent of the doses are to be provided to the Centre at a lesser rate. SII CEO Adar Poonawalla earlier said this negotiated rate for Covishield was around ₹150 a dose for the Centre.
To begin with, SII wants to sell the vaccine only to states and private hospitals. It has requested corporate and private individuals to access these vaccines “through the state-facilitated machinery and private health systems”.
While the Centre will provide free shots only to people above 45 years of age, states must offer free vaccinations to all younger adults from low-income families. It is up to states to decide how to supply the vaccine doses they get directly from manufacturers.
Since private hospitals are getting the doses at ₹1,200 (two shots), they would likely add the cost of administering the vaccine and also some profit. It is not clear if states will intervene and cap the prices that hospitals can charge.
Other likely entrants: Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.