Will sell Oxford vaccine at ₹1K if govt allows: Adar Poonawalla

Serum Institute’s chief says company is selling the first hundred doses of Covishield to government at a ‘special price’ of ₹200; two doses will cost ₹2,000 if government allows retail sale

Adar Poonawalla-Covid vaccines lethargy
When people take a few shots every year, they may take anti-coronavirus vaccines and other shots together, Adar Poonawalla said | File Photo

Serum Institute of India (SII) chief Adar Poonawalla has said the company is ready to sell Covishield, its COVID-19 vaccine at ₹1,000 per shot if the government allows its retail sale.

Covishield, developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University and manufactured in India by SII, was approved for emergency use by the drug regulator on Sunday.

Speaking to NDTV, Poonawalla said while SII is selling the first hundred doses of the vaccine to the government at a “special price” of ₹200, it will be further sold at different prices once the tenders are floated.

“But let me just say — whatever we give to the government, they are going to provide it free to the people of India and when we subsequently sell it in the private market, the MRP is going to be ₹1,000 per shot,” adding that the total cost would round up to ₹2,000 as the vaccine needs a booster dose.

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Poonawala said he is looking at a “quick rollout” of the vaccine, tentatively in a week’s time once the formalities are completed.

“…we’re hoping to reach 70-80 million doses of actual supply in the next one month – or maybe a month and a half at the most,” he told NDTV.

The pharmaceutical major has 50 million doses ready and is expected to double its monthly output by March.

Poonawalla, however, said the retail sale of the vaccine is completely dependent on the government’s nod.

“We’ll have to go by their (the government’s) guidance and wisdom because they have said that we cannot export the vaccine or give it to the private market. These have been our discussions at the movement and I respect that because they want to give it to the vulnerable people,” he said.

The government has made it clear that the vaccination will start with frontline workers including healthcare workers and police and then move on to the vulnerable category of people before being administered to the common masses.

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