Hindustan Times (East UP)

Covishield to be sold for ₹400 to states, ₹600 to pvt hospitals

SII releases price of Oxford-AstraZenec­a Covid-19 vaccine, to ramp up production

- Rhythma Kaul letters@hindustant­imes.com

NEW DELHI: The Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s biggest manufactur­er of the coronaviru­s vaccine, on Wednesday announced that it will sell its anti-Covid-19 vaccine, Covishield, for ₹400 to state government­s and ₹600 to private hospitals in the country, and in next five months, the jabs will be made available in retail and free trade.

Covishield, which was developed by Oxford Univerity and AstraZenac­a, vaccine will be sold to the central government at ₹400 too once the existing contract for ₹150 a dose ends, SII chief executive officer Adar Poonawalla said.

“For the next two months, we will address the limited capacity by scaling up the vaccine production. Going ahead, 50% of our capacities will be served to the Government of India’s vaccinatio­n programme, and the remaining 50% of the capacity will be for the state government­s and private hospitals,” said SII in a statement.

The firm made the announceme­nt after the Centre on Monday allowed Covid-19 vaccine makers to sell their vaccine in open market in India at a pre-decided rate.

“SII welcomes the recent announceme­nt made by Government of India’s Ministry of Health and Finance Ministry to accelerate India’s vaccinatio­n drive. The promising directives will help to scale- up vaccine production, and allow state government­s, private hospitals, and vaccinatio­n centres to procure vaccines directly,” the statement said.

The pricing, however, came in for sharp criticism from ppposition parties who said there was

no logic in charging state government­s higher rates when the Centre was getting the same vaccine at ₹150 per dose. “Disaster of the country, opportunit­y for friends of [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi. Injustice of the central government,” Congress MP Rahul Gandhi said in a tweet.

“The central government’s vaccine strategy is no less than the demonetisa­tion. The common people will stand in queues, will suffer loss of wealth, health and life and in the end only a few big industrial­ists will benefit,” Gandhi added.

Poonawalla later told CNBCTV18 that the central government too will be charged ₹400 once the initial contract for 100 million doses ends.

“Let me clarify, it is not a different price. All government prices will be Rs 400 henceforth for new contracts,” he said.

“Also to put it in context, it is half or one-third the price of most global vaccines,” Poonawalla said.

According to the pharma company, it is ensuring that India’s vaccines are affordable in comparison to any other vaccines in the world, considerin­g the price of vaccines globally.

Globally, American vaccines in open market currently cost about ₹1,500 per dose, while Russian and Chinese vaccines cost around ₹750 a shot.

Poonawalla said SII will be able to raise its monthly output of Covishield to 100 million doses by July from 60-70 million now, later than a previous timeline of end-May. The company also expressed its inability to meet with the demands of individual corporate houses given the supply constraint­s.

“Furthermor­e, owing to the complexity, and urgency of the situation it is challengin­g to supply it independen­tly to each corporate entity. We would urge all corporate and private individual­s to access the vaccines through the state facilitate­d machinery and private health systems. Post 4-5 months, the vaccines will be made available in retail and free trade,” the company said.

Covishield comprises over 90% of the 127.6 million Covid-19 vaccines administer­ed across the country so far, according to government data on Wednesday.

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