It is likely to cost Rs 1,000 per dose when available in open market
The Government will have to shell out between Rs 219 to Rs 292 per shot of Covishield vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford and sold and manufactured by Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) in the country. The SII has a licence to produce the shot and has already manufactured close to 50 million doses.
The Government has plans to roll out the vaccination drive at the earliest with at least 3 crore health workers and corona warriors to be given the jab in the first phase.
However, the Covishield vaccine is likely to cost Rs 1,000 per dose when it is available in the open market and for private use. As of now, the SII cannot export or sell in the open market its Covid-19 vaccine.
Adar Poonawalla, chief executive officer of the SII, has said that the vaccine manufacturer is likely to charge a special price of Rs 200 per dose for the first 100 million jabs, which it will supply to the Government.
Indian drug regulator on Sunday approved Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin for restricted emergency use in the country. “We want the vaccine to be affordable and accessible to all. The Government of India will receive it at a far more affordable price of $3-4, since they will be buying in a larger volume,” he said.
Poonawalla, said the priority supplies will go to India and the GAVI (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization) nations.
Only after meeting their requirements, “the private market will open up where the pricing would be $6-8 per dose,” he said. Serum will have 100 million doses in a month, and will possibly double it by April.
The Government has indicated that it may need 300 million doses before July 2021, with frontline health workers and the elderly given priority.
Poonawalla said Serum was in touch with the Government for the vaccine’s procurement. “Initially, we will supply 50 million doses and we will get more confirmations over the course of the next few days,” he added.
After the regulator’s nod, Serum expects formalities to be completed in the next 7 to 10 days for the rollout to begin. When asked if the SII has been barred by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) not to export the vaccine till vulnerable populations in India are protected, Poonawalla said: “We will start exporting the vaccine post the Government’s approval and talks are going on”.
“Our priority list will see us cater to the Indian market first, then the COVAX countries. Optimistically, by March-April we should have permissions in place,” he added.
When asked if the company was negotiating bilateral agreements with other countries too for the vaccine, Poonawalla said: “We have bilateral partnerships with nations like Bangladesh, Myanmar, Morocco, etc”.
On the efficacy of Covishield, he noted that the company has proven in its trials that it has a 100 per cent efficacy on hospitalisation, implying that there were zero hospitalisations found in the people who took the vaccine globally.