With talks underway between the central government and Zydus Cadila over the pricing of the COVID-19 vaccine ZyCov-D, the pharma company is learnt to have proposed a price of Rs 1,900 for its three-dose jab that can be given to those above 12 years of age.
However, the government is negotiating for a reduction in price and a final decision on it is likely to be taken this week, sources in the know of the developments told PTI. The government had on Thursday said that the indigenously-developed, world's first DNA-based needle-free COVID-19 vaccine by Zydus Cadila will be introduced in the nationwide anti-coronavirus vaccination drive shortly.
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"The company has proposed a price of Rs 1,900 inclusive of taxes for its three-dose jab. "Negotiations are on. The company has been asked to reconsider all the aspects regarding the cost of the vaccine. A final decision on the price of the vaccine is likely to be taken this week," a source said.
Another source said the ZyCoV-D has to be differently priced than Covaxin and Covishield as, apart from being a three-dose vaccine, there is a needle-free jet injector used for administering the vaccine that costs Rs 30,000. That jet injector can be used for administering around 20,000 doses.
The vaccine is to be given on days zero, 28 and 56. According to sources, around three rounds of meetings have taken place so far between the Centre and the company, the last one on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the ministry is also waiting for the recommendations from the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI ) for introducing ZyCoV-D in the inoculation drive and prioritising beneficiaries focusing on those aged 12-18 years with comorbidities. The NTAGI will provide the protocol and framework for the introduction of this vaccine in the COVID-19 immunisation drive, an official source said.
As far as the price of the vaccine at which it will be procured is concerned, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, at a press conference on Thursday, said the government is in conversation with the manufacturers. "Since this is a three-dose vaccine and comes with a needleless delivery system, it would have a differential pricing than the existing vaccines which are being used in the COVID vaccination programme," he said.
The vaccine ZyCoV-D received Emergency Use Authorisation from the drug regulator on August 20 making it the first vaccine to be administered in the age-group of 12 to 18 besides adults. Vaccines Covishield, Covaxin and Sputnik V are being given to only those above 18 years of age and unlike ZyCoV-D, these are two-dose vaccines.