Govt Asks Bharat Biotech, SII to Lower COVID Shot Prices: Report

The move comes after mass outrage over the high prices of the two COVID-19 vaccines – Covishield and Covaxin.

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Rare blood clotting issues in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the US and the AstraZeneca vaccine in Europe, have raised several questions about the safety of these vaccines.

The Centre on Monday, 26 April, asked vaccine makers Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India (SII) to lower the prices of their COVID-19 vaccines, reported PTI quoting sources.

The move comes after mass outrage over the high prices of the two COVID-19 vaccines – Covishield and Covaxin – which were recently announced.

Pune-based vaccine-maker SII had announced last week that it had priced Covishield at Rs 600 per dose for private hospitals and Rs 400 per dose for state governments. SII said Covishield was still cheaper than foreign vaccines, which cost between Rs 750 to Rs 1,500 per dose.

Hyderabad-based vaccine-maker Bharat Biotech on Saturday announced that it had priced Covaxin at Rs 600 for state governments and Rs 1,200 for private hospitals per shot.

The Centre will be procuring both vaccines at Rs 150.


Row Over Prices

SII’s announcement of the prices had started off a pricing row, with the vaccine being touted as one of the most expensive in the world, and the Opposition lashing out at differential prices for the Centre and state governments.

Comparing prices of vaccinations in the global market, The Indian Express on Saturday reported that at Rs 600 ($8 per shot ) Covishield “is more than its price in any major global market”.

The report further pointed out that “the 27-nation EU is paying $2.15-$3.50 for a shot of the vaccine across locations in Europe, a high-cost manufacturing destination.”

However, in a press statement on Saturday, Serum Institute’s CEO Adar Poonawalla claimed that Covishield was the “most affordable COVID-19 vaccine available in the market today”.

Poonawalla said, “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 that in India, has been the lowest.”

Bharat Biotech Chairman and Managing Director Krishna M Ella said that recovering cost is essential for innovation.

(With inputs from PTI and The Indian Express.)

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