The Union Health Ministry clarified on Saturday that its procurement price for the vaccines — Covaxin and Covishield — remains the same at ₹150 a dose, and it will continue to provide them free to States.

“It is clarified that the Government’s procurement price for both Covid-19 vaccines remains ₹150 per dose. The government-procured doses will continue to be provided totally free to States,” the Ministry tweeted on Saturday in a response to a media report that said Indians could end up paying around ₹400 a dose at State government hospitals if they agree to increased procurement cost of Serum Institute’s Covishield vaccine.

This concern of vaccine beneficiaries that they may have to fork out ₹400 per dose follows the Centre  allowing vaccine makers to sell 50 per cent of their production directly to States and private hospitals. On its part, the Serum Institute of India (SII) had announced it would price its vaccine at ₹400 a dose for the States and ₹600/dose for private hospitals.

Under the  accelerated Phase-3 of the  Covid-19 vaccination programme, manufacturers will supply 50 per cent of their monthly Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL) released doses to the Centre and the balance to State governments and in the open market, the Centre had announced.

Meanwhile, the SII, in a media statement on Saturday, asserted that Covishield is the most affordable Covid 19 vaccine available in the market today, still lower than other essentials required to treat Covid-19 and other life-threatening diseases. It further stated that only a limited portion of its volume would be sold to private hospitals at ₹600 per dose.

SII added that there an inaccurate comparison was being made between the global prices of the vaccine and that in India.

It further stated that the current situation is extremely dire, the virus is constantly mutating while the public remains at risk. “Identifying the uncertainty, we have to ensure sustainability as we must be able to invest in scaling up and expanding our capacity to fight the pandemic and save lives,” it added.