As the country prepares for the Mega Covid-19 vaccination drive scheduled to start on 16 January, the Ministry of Health of the Union gave a thorough explanation on the Indian prices of the two Covid-19 vaccines approved for emergency use on Tuesday.
In today’s press conference, the Ministry of Health cleared doubts about the volume and price of the Serum Institute vaccine purchases for its locally developed Oxford Covid-19 ‘Covishield’ vaccine and Bharat Biotech’s natively produced ‘Covaxin.’
In the background of a number of speculations on market rates and dosages, the Ministry explained the following:
Covaxain Bharat Biotech
A total of 55 lakh doses from the Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech Covaxin vaccine are available to the government.
Out of these doses, Bharat Biotech said it would deliver 16.5 lakh doses free of charge. “BBIL will provide 16.50 lakh doses of Covaxin free of cost to the Central govt as a special gesture,” said Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan.
For the remaining 38.50 lakh doses, Bharat Biotech is charging the government a dose of Rs.295/dose, the Ministry of Health added.
However, given that the total procurement is 55 lakh doses, the price is down to Rs. 206 per dose, the Ministry added.
The Health Ministry said today that 110 lakh (or 1.1 crore) doses of COVISHIELD vaccine are being obtained from SII at the rate of Rs. 200/dose (excluding taxes).
Serum CEO Adar Poonawalla said earlier in an ANI interview that his company is planning to sell Covishield doses at Rs. 1,000 on the private sector. “In the private market, for those who want to purchase the vaccine, the price would be Rs. 1,000.”
However, he also added that the Indian Government has not yet granted the company permission to sell on the private sector.
India has recently approved two COVID-19 vaccines for restricted emergency use: Oxford’s Covishield, manufactured in the country by the Serum Institute of India (SII), and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin.
The government reiterated in yesterday’s press conference that both the vaccines (Covishield & Covaxin) were approved for emergency use and “there should be no doubt about their safety.”
Dr VK Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, stressed, “They have been tested on thousands of people & side-effects are negligible. There is no risk of any significance.”
Meanwhile, in the early hours of Tuesday, the Serum Institute began dispatching its locally developed Oxford Covid-19 vaccine ‘Covishield’ across the country.
In the early hours of Tuesday, four days before the start of the nationwide vaccination campaign, the first consignment containing vials of the Covishield vaccine was dispatched from the Serum Institute of India in Delhi.
At around 10 am, a SpiceJet aircraft carrying the vaccines landed at Delhi airport.
Three trucks carrying the very first consignment of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccine left today for Pune airport to be flown to 13 locations across the nation in the midst of tight security.