‘India’s Covid-19 vaccines cheapest in the world’

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 13, 2021

A police officer performs puja in front of a truck carrying the first consignment of Covishield before it leaves the Serum Bio-Pharma Park of Serum Institute of India, in Pune on Tuesday   -  STRINGER

Govt has lifted 54,72,000 doses so far; no option to beneficiary to choose antidote

The government on Tuesday said that the two Covid-19 vaccines available in India are just a fourth the price of the cheapest in the world, but did not explain the criteria to be followed in deciding who gets which vaccine.

According to Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, the option of choosing the vaccine will not be available to the beneficiary. This is the practice in countries where more than one vaccine is available, he said.

The government has placed orders for 110-lakh doses of Covishield, the AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine, produced by Serum Institute of India (SII), and 55-lakh doses of Covaxin from Bharat Biotech. Covishield is priced at ₹200 and Covaxin at ₹295 a dose. However, since Bharat Biotech is providing 16.5-lakh doses free of cost to the government, the per dose cost works out to ₹206, said Bhushan, while briefing the media. The vaccines are cheaper in India as the firms are not selling them at market price.

Some of the cheapest vaccines available globally are the Russian Sputnik-V and that being developed by Johnson & Johnson, which are priced at $10 (approx. Rs.740) each a dose.

The government has so far lifted 54,72,000 doses of the vaccines and the procurement would end by January 14, Bhushan said.

Talking to media in Pune, SII CEO Adar Poonawalla said the special price of ₹200 is only for the government. This price would be applicable for the agreed supply of 5.6 crore doses, he said, hours after trucks carrying 56.5-lakh doses of Covishield rolled out of the firm’s Pune facility.

When the vaccine hits the private market, it is expected to cost around ₹1,000 a dose, Poonawalla said.

Storage of vaccines

From the four general medicine supply depots in Chennai, Karnal, Kolkata and Mumbai, the vaccines will be transported to regional vaccine centres, under the control of the respective State governments.

All States have at least one regional vaccine centre. However, Uttar Pradesh has nine centres, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh four each, Kerala three, and Karnataka and Rajasthantwo each, Bhushan said.

Vinod Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, said both vaccines are safe, immunogenic and devoid of any side-effects.

“They are in fact safer than many other vaccines used for routine immunisation in the country,” Paul added.

Published on January 12, 2021

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