Image used for representational purpose only
HYDERABAD/MUMBAI: Indigenous Covid-19 vaccine Covaxin will be priced at Rs 600 per dose for state governments and Rs 1,200 for private hospitals, its developer Bharat Biotech said on Saturday.
For private hospitals, the increase in the vaccine price will be as much as eight times the current supplies they are getting through the central government. Similarly, state governments will pay Rs 600 per shot — four times more than the price at which the Centre will get the vaccine.
At these rates, for private hospitals, Covaxin will come at twice the cost of Serum Institute of India’s Covishield, which will be sold at Rs 600. For states too there will be a difference of Rs 200 per shot.
Bharat Biotech, however, intends to keep prices for the central government unchanged at Rs 150, unlike Serum Institute, which is seeking to increase the rate for the Centre to Rs 400 a shot.
The Hyderabad-based company sought to defend its pricing plan suggesting that in the export market, the vaccine price has been pegged at $15-20 per dose (Rs 1,125-1,500).
The action is set to come under the scanner, with Serum Institute already facing flak.
On Saturday, Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla had to issue a statement justifying the price increase on the grounds that it was required to make it sustainable for the company to invest in scaling up capacity. The company maintained that Covishield was the most affordable Covid-19 vaccine.
The initial supply price of Covishield for all government immunization programmes including India’s, has been the lowest, he said. The low price was also possible as advance funding was available, the company argued.
“The price of the vaccine is still lower than a lot of other medical treatment and essentials required to treat Covid-19 and other life-threatening diseases,” Poonawalla said.
Only a limited portion of Serum Institute’s volume will be sold to private hospitals at Rs 600 per dose, he said. “Government procurement for country-wide immunization programmes in all countries including India has been at a far lower price as the volumes are very large,” the statement added.
Giving the rationale for its pricing strategy, Bharat Biotech said: “Covaxin is an inactivated and highly purified vaccine, making manufacturing expensive due to very low process yields. All costs towards product development, manufacturing facilities and clinical trials were deployed primarily using internal funding and resources of Bharat Biotech.”
It added that recovering costs is essential in the journey of innovation towards other vaccines such as intranasal Covid-19, Chikunguniya, Zika, Cholera and others. “Our core mission for the last 25 years has been to provide affordable, yet world-class healthcare solutions for the globe,” the company said.
Bharat Biotech intends to reserve over 50% of its Covaxin capacity for central government supplies.