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COVID-19 Vaccine | Serum Institute issues clarification on Covishield pricing, says govt procurement is at 'far lower price'

"Covishield is the most affordable COVID-19 vaccine available in the market today. The initial prices were kept very low globally as it was based on advance funding given by those countries for at-risk vaccine manufacturing," Serum India said in a statement.

April 24, 2021 / 06:19 PM IST
A vial of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, which is produced in India and marketed as Covishield (Image: Reuters/Gleb Garanich)

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


The Serum Institute of India (SII) on April 24 sought to ‘clear confusions’ around the pricing of its Covishield COVID-19 vaccine.

SII, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, said that governments’ procurement for the nationwide immunisation programmes in all countries, including India, has been at a “far lower price as the volumes are very large”.

“There was an inaccurate comparison done between the global prices of the vaccine with India. Covishield is the most affordable COVID-19 vaccine available in the market today. The initial prices were kept very low globally as it was based on advance funding given by those countries for at-risk vaccine manufacturing. The initial supply price of Covishield for all government immunisation programmes, including India, has been the lowest,” the Serum Institute said in a statement.

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SII further said that only a limited portion of the production volume would be sold to private hospitals at Rs 600 per dose. “The price of the vaccine is still lower than a lot of other medical treatment and essentials required to treat COVID-19 and other life-threatening diseases,” SII said.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

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.

How many types of vaccines are there?

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.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

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.

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Further, the company said that the vaccine market should open up for other jabs from across the world “in the interest of public health”.

COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker: All you need to know about manufacturing and pricing

On April 21, the Serum Institute had announced that it will charge state governments Rs 400 and private hospitals Rs 600 per dose of its Covishield COVID-19 vaccine.

The company said 50 percent of its capacities will serve the government of India's vaccination programme, and the remaining 50 percent capacity will be for state governments and private hospitals. “For the next two months, we will address the limited capacity by scaling up the vaccine production,” it said in a statement.

It had also said that doses will be made available in retail and for free trade after four-five months.

The Serum Institute produces Covishield, the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca. Covishield is among the three vaccines authorised for emergency use in India. Covishield needs to be administered in a two-dose regimen. The government had earlier revised the gap between the two doses Covishield to six-eight weeks.

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Moneycontrol News
first published: Apr 24, 2021 04:18 pm

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