The government has placed an order with the Pune-based Serum Institute of India to buy 11 million doses of ‘Covishield’ vaccine for ₹210 (₹200 plus GST) per dose. The first tranche of 10 million doses will be delivered soon.
Serum Institute confirmed that it has received the purchase order for Covishield — the COVID-19 vaccine developed by the UK-based Oxford University and pharma major AstraZeneca.
The Central Drugs and Standards Committee (CDSCO) has approved Oxford’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin for emergency use. The two vaccines will now be used to vaccinate 3 crore healthcare and frontline workers besides 27 crore people above the age of 50 and those with comorbities.
Serum is expected to start delivering the vaccine soon as the government’s vaccination programme rolls out on January 16.
The price of ₹210 per dose will be applicable to the first 100 million doses supplied and the government and the company have agreed to the price in writing, NDTV quoted sources as saying. India will probably approve more vaccines for the second phase of the vaccination drive.
Covishield could also be available in open market, but may cost a much higher ₹1,000 per dose. The developers have said that two doses of the vaccine are required for it to be effective against COVID.
Twelve states will get only Covishield, while 12 others will get both Covishield and Covaxin, NDTV quoted a Chhattisgarh minister as saying. The minister said Chhattisgarh will opt for only Covishield.
Pune-based Kool-ez Cold Chain Ltd will transport Serum’s Covishield vaccine all over the country. On Monday, six air-conditioned trucks were used to transport the first consignment of doses from the company’s unit in Pune to different parts of India. Each container will have about 280-300 boxes with each box containing 1.20 lakh doses, PTI reported.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday (January 11) held a virtual meeting with chief ministers of all states and Union Territories to review the country’s preparedness for COVID-19 vaccination that starts January 16.
He said that first 30 crore vaccine doses will be administered for free with the Centre bearing the cost and not the states. The government will spend an estimated ₹10,000 crore for the purpose.
The first to benefit from the 30 crore jabs will be doctors, nurses, hospital and medical staff (about three crore), followed by people above the age of 50 and others with co-morbidities.
The Prime Minister told the chief ministers that Covishield and Covaxin — the two vaccines approved for emergency use — are customised for use in India and reasonable priced when compared with any other COVID vaccine in the world. He also said that four more vaccines are lined up for approval.
The Prime Minister also made it clear that public representatives will not be among the first to get vaccinated.
Meanwhile, the health ministry said on Monday that the number of Indians who tested positive for the new UK variant of SARS-CoV-2 has jumped to 96.
On Monday, India recorded 16,311 new Covid cases — the lowest single-day case count since June 23. The active case count dropped to 2.2 lakh with 161 deaths reported on Sunday.