Supreme Court (Image: Shutterstock)
The government has told the Supreme Court that the differential pricing of coronavirus vaccines is aimed at creating an incentivised demand for the private manufacturers that will ensure market-driven affordable prices.
"Differential pricing is based on the concept of creating an incentivised demand for the private vaccine manufacturers in order to instil a competitive market resulting in higher production of vaccines and market driven affordable prices for the same," the Centre said in the affidavit, as quoted by legal news website bar & Bench.
"This will also attract offshore vaccine manufacturers to enter the country. This will result in increased availability of vaccine"
The Centre has also opposed compulsory licencing of vaccines and medicines used in COVID-19 treatment, saying it won't help boost manufacturing as raw material supply was an issue.
Calls to expand manufacturing have been growing as India continues to report record daily infections and states complain of shortages of jabs.
Defending different prices of jabs, the Centre in an affidavit to the country’s top court said that pricing won't be an issue since all states governments have announced free vaccination, the news channel reported.
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Several states have questioned manufacturers selling vaccines at a higher price to them and private hospitals. Bharat Biotech has priced Covaxin at Rs 400 a dose for states and Rs 1,200 for private hospitals. Serum Institute of India is selling Covishield for Rs 300 per dose to state governments and Rs 600 private hospitals.
The Centre will continue to procure jabs at Rs 150 per dose.
The affidavit was filed ahead of the next Supreme Court hearing on the matter.
The top court on May 10 adjourned the suo moto hearing of COVID-related issues to May 13 due to technical glitches.
The Centre also opposed compulsory licensing on vaccines and medicines such as remdesivir and tocilizumab.
The Centre said additional permissions and licenses may not result in increased production immediately.
"It is presumptuous to assume that the patent holder will not agree to more voluntary licenses for such manufacturers who have a new drug manufacturing permission from the DCGI. However, if such a manufacturer applies for a compulsory license under section 92, the same may be suitably considered by the DoC," the affidavit further said.
Also read: 17.56 crore free vaccine doses provided to states: MoS Finance Anurag Thakur
Speaking about registration for COVID-19 vaccination on the CoWIN portal, the Centre said those who do not have digital access can take the help of family, friends, NGOs, and Common Service Centres (CSC).
The Centre also cautioned against "overzealous, but well-meaning judicial intervention" on the management of the pandemic.
"In the context of a global pandemic, where the response and strategy of the nation is completely driven by expert medical and scientific opinion, there is even little room for judicial interference. Any overzealous, though well-meaning judicial intervention may lead to unforeseen and unintended consequences, in absence of any expert advice or administrative experience, leaving the doctors, scientists, experts and executive very little room to find innovative solutions on the go," the affidavit said.