A vial of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, which is produced in India and marketed as Covishield (Image: Reuters/Gleb Garanich)
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.
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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.
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.
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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.