The government has committed to buy from the Serum Institute further 4.5 crore doses of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine, Covishield, at a price of Rs 200 per shot plus applicable taxes by April, in addition to a firm order given to the company for 1.1 crore doses.
Fights have started ferrying the vaccines to different cities from Pune from Tuesday morning.
According to thepurchase orderplaced on Monday, each dose of the vaccine has been priced at Rs 200 and with GST of Rs 10, it would cost Rs 210.
The HLL Lifecare Limited, a public sector undertaking, issued the supply orders on behalf of the Union Health Ministry on Monday.
The first order of 1.1 crore doses of Covishield will be worth Rs 231 crore, while the total amount including the commitment for 4.5 crore doses will amount to an estimated Rs 1,176 crore at current rates, according to sources.
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.
"It is further informed that there is a commitment to purchase further 450 lakh doses from Serum Institute of India Pvt Limited, a manufacturer (through subsidiary Serum Institute of Life Sciences Pvt Limited) at Rs 200 per dose plus GST if applicable by April 2021," the letter of comfort signed by Prakash Kumar Singh, Additional Director, Government and Regulatory Affairs at Serum Institute of India (SII) and R S Manku, Vice President (Govt Business) stated.
"This is in continuation to the supply order dated January 11 for supply of 1.1 crore doses of Covishield vaccine as approved by DCGI vide permission dated January 3 for restricted use in emergency situation," it stated.
The government on Monday also placed an order to Bharat Biotech for 55 lakh doses of indigenously developed Covaxin costing Rs 162 crore.
India had recently approved two vaccines, Oxford's Covishield manufactured by SII in the country and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin, for restricted emergency use.
The country will launch its COVID-19 vaccination drive from January 16 in what Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called the world's largest inoculation programme with priority to be given to nearly three crore healthcare and frontline workers.According to the COVID-19 Vaccine Operational Guidelines, the shots will be offered first to an estimated one crore healthcare workers, and around two crore frontline workers, and then to persons above 50 years of age, followed by persons younger than 50 years of age with associated comorbidities based on evolving pandemic situation.