The price of Covishield vaccine supplied to the state governments will be reduced to Rs 300 per dose with immediate effect, Serum Institute of India's (SII) chief executive officer Adar Poonawalla said on April 28.
"As a philanthropic gesture on behalf of @SerumInstIndia, I hereby reduce the price to the states from Rs.400 to Rs.300 per dose, effective immediately; this will save thousands of crores of state funds going forward. This will enable more vaccinations and save countless lives (sic)," Poonawalla tweeted.
The SII, which is India's largest vaccine manufacturer, had earlier priced Covishield at Rs 400 per dose for the state governments and Rs 600 for the private hospitals.
Notably, Covishield - the Indian version of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine - is one of the two anti-COVID jabs being currently administered to the beneficiaries in the country.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
The second vaccine being currently used is Bharat Biotech Limited's Covaxin, which has been priced at Rs 600 per dose for the state governments and Rs 1,200 for private hospitals.
The Centre would, however, continue procuring both the vaccines at Rs 150 per dose. A number of state governments had raised objections to the differential pricing.
The states, which raised the objection, sought the Centre's intervention on the pricing row before May 1 - when the vaccination drive would be thrown open to all citizens aged above 18.
Earlier on April 28, a meeting was held between Union ministers and officials of the vaccine manufacturers to discuss pricing and supply-related issues.
According to CNBC TV18, purchase orders were yet to be signed by states and private hospitals with the vaccine makers, since clarity was awaited on pricing of the doses.Sources told the channel that 19 states have placed requests for 340 million doses with SII, while private hospitals have ordered 18 million doses.