A meeting between COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers and Union ministers is currently underway to discuss pricing and supply allocation, CNBC-TV18 reported.
Vaccine makers are still awaiting the Centre's decision on the pricing of COVID-19 jabs.
The Centre on April 19 expanded the vaccination drive to all individuals above 18 years of age, starting from May 1. The government also said states and private hospitals can procure vaccines directly.
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No purchase orders have been signed by states and private hospitals yet, since clarity is awaited on pricing, sources told CNBC-TV18.
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 Centre had asked Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India (SII) to review the pricing of their COVID-19 vaccines.
Bharat Biotech has priced Covaxin at Rs 600 per dose for state governments and 1,200 for private hospitals. SII has said Covishield, the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot, will be sold at Rs 400 per dose to states and Rs 600 for private hospitals.
However, the Centre will continue procuring doses at Rs 150 each.
Sources told CNBC-TV18 that 19 states have placed requests for 340 million doses with SII, while private hospitals have ordered 18 million doses.