NEW DELHI: Two days after the Centre liberalised the Covid vaccination policy allowing states and private hospitals to procure 50% of all vaccine supplies, Serum Institute of India (SII) said that Covishield would be sold at Rs 400 per dose to states and Rs 600 per dose to private hospitals.
Though not said explicitly, it implies that people who go for vaccinations in private hospitals may have to pay a higher price per dose of Covishield, as Rs 600 per dose being the procurement price, private hospitals may apply additional charges.
In vaccination centres run by the Union government, the vaccine will continue to be administered for free to those above 45 years while states will take individual calls for vaccination centres run by them.
On Monday, the Narendra Modi government, while announcing that starting May 1, Covid19 vaccination will be opened for all above 18 years in India, also said that half of the vaccine supplied can be procured by the states and private hospitals directly and the vaccine makers can sell them at pre-declared prices.
Though a statement by the company did not mention the change in price to the Centre, in an interview with a TV channel, the company CEO Adar Poonawalla also said that the vaccine per dose will now cost a re-negotiated Rs 400 per dose to the Centre.
As of now, the Union government is buying the vaccine at Rs 150 per shot but Poonawalla said that the company was making losses at this rate.
Of over 13 crore vaccine doses administered in the country so far, Covishield’s share has been 85-90%, largely due to significantly higher production capacity of SII, in comparison to Bharat Biotech, the manufacturer of Covaxin, the only other Covid19 vaccine available in the country presently.
In a statement, SII, which is manufacturing Covishield following a tie-up with AstraZeneca-Oxford University, announced the new prices.
The firm said that Covishield will still be more affordable than foreign jabs, which cost anywhere from Rs 750 to Rs 1,500 per shot and added that supplying the vaccine independently to corporates would be challenging and urged firms and individuals to access the shots through states and private hospitals.
“...owing to the complexity, and urgency of the situation it is challenging to supply it independently to each corporate entity," said the company in a statement. “We would urge all corporate and private individuals to access the vaccines through the state facilitated machinery and private health systems”
It also said that the vaccine may be available in the retail market 4-5 months from now.
Meanwhile many have criticised the government for leaving the price control in the hands of private players. “It is not clear how SII is able to declare the price at which it will be selling its vaccine to state governments without engaging in procurement processes,” Malini Aisola of the All India Drug Action Network told The New Indian Express.