Serum Institute of India (SII) said it would charge state governments Rs 400 and private hospitals Rs 600 per dose of its Covishield COVID-19 vaccine, finally answering how the company expects to price the product it manufactures and accelerate India’s vaccination drive.
The company said 50 percent of its capacities would serve the government of India’s vaccination program, and the remaining 50 percent capacity will be for state governments and private hospitals. “For the next two months, we will address the limited capacity by scaling up the vaccine production,” it said in a statement.
Serum Institute, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, said doses would be made available in retail and free trade after four-five months.
Citing “complexity and urgency of the situation” and challenges in supplying doses independently to corporate entities, the Serum Institute urged corporates and private individuals to access vaccines through the state-facilitated machinery and private health systems.
Everyone above 18 years of age will be eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19 from May 1; the Centre had announced on April 19 as it liberalised the vaccination drive to allow states, private hospitals, and industrial establishments to procure the doses directly from manufacturers.
The Union Government had said that manufacturers would have to “transparently” make an advance declaration of the price at which vaccines would be available to state governments and in the open market before May 1.
The Serum Institute produces Covishield, the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca. Covishield is among the three vaccines authorized for emergency use in India. Bharat Biotech, which produces Covaxin, has not announced its pricing for state governments and the open market.
Covishield needs to be administered in a two-dose regimen. The government had earlier revised the gap between the two doses Covishield to six eight weeks.
More than 13 crore vaccine doses have been administered in India so far. However, several states have complained of a supply shortage. Inoculating a large section of the population is seen as an effective way of curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus, which causes the infectious disease.
The second wave of coronavirus has battered India’s creaking healthcare system hard as scores of people struggle to secure hospital beds, oxygen cylinders, and medicines such as Remdesivir and Tocilizumab.
Hours before manufacturers met Prime Minister Narendra Modi virtually on April 20, Serum Institute’s CEO Adar Poonawalla thanked the prime minister and Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for ‘decisive policy changes and swift financial aid’ that he said will help vaccine production and distribution in India. This came a day after the Centre approved an advance of around Rs 3,000 crore to the Serum Institute and around Rs 1,500 crore to Bharat Biotech. Poonawalla had earlier stressed that his company would require the amount to ramp up production capacity.