Zydus Cadila has agreed to bring down the price of its COVID-19 vaccine to Rs 265 a dose following persistent negotiations by the government but a final deal is yet to be reached, sources said on Sunday.
To administer the needle-free ZyCov-D vaccine, a disposable painless jet applicator costing Rs 93 is required for each dose, which would take the price to Rs 358 per dose.
The Ahmedabad-based pharma company earlier had proposed a price of Rs 1,900 for its three-dose regimen, a source had said.
"The company has brought down the price to Rs 358 for each dose which includes Rs 93, the cost of a disposable jet applicator, following repeated negotiations by the government.... A final decision in the matter is likely to be taken this week," a source in the know of developments told PTI.
The three doses are to be administered 28 days apart, with each dose comprising a shot in both arms.
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 indigenously developed world's first DNA-based needle-free COVID-19 vaccine ZyCoV-D received emergency use authorisation from the drug regulator on August 20, making it the first vaccine to be administered to those aged 12 years and above.
Meanwhile, the government is still waiting for the recommendations from the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) for introducing ZyCoV-D in the inoculation drive for adults and children with co-morbities.
NTAGI will provide the protocol and framework for the introduction of this vaccine in the COVID-19 immunisation drive.
Official sources earlier had said that the pricing of ZyCoV-D would be different than Covaxin and Covishield as apart from being a three-dose vaccine, it requires a special pharma jet injector that has to be used for administering the vaccine.
That pharma jet injector can be used for administering around 20,000 doses. "The jet applicator helps the vaccine fluid to penetrate the skin to enter cells of the recipient," the source said.
The government is currently procuring two other vaccines -- Covishield at Rs 205 per dose and Covaxin at Rs 215 per dose -- for the national COVID-19 immunisation programme.Covishield, Covaxin and Sputnik V are being given to only those above 18 years of age and unlike ZyCoV-D, these are two-dose regimens.