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Covaxin supply at ₹150/dose to Centre not sustainable: Bharat Bio

Our Bureau Hyderabad | Updated on June 15, 2021

Makes a strong pitch for differential pricing of Covid vaccines

Pitching strongly for a differential pricing of Covid-19 vaccines, Bharat Biotech said the present supply price of Covaxin to the Centre at ₹150 per dose “is not competitive and clearly not sustainable” in the long run.

In a detailed statement on vaccine pricing, the Hyderabad-based company said a higher price for Covaxin in private markets is required to offset a part of the cost.

“Companies such as Bharat Biotech, which are innovators with specialised expertise in product development and large-scale manufacturing, should be allowed to maintain a differential pricing strategy for governments and private hospitals,” the statement said.

The position taken by Bharat Bio assumes significance in the wake of the revised vaccine policy announced earlier this month, with the Centre buying 75 per cent of locally produced jabs for supply to States. It also capped the rates for shots at private vaccination centres at ₹780/dose for Covishield, ₹1,410 for Covaxin and ₹1,145 for Sputnik V.

Currently, Bharat Biotech sells Covaxin at ₹150 per dose to the Centre, ₹400 to States and at ₹1,200 to private hospitals. The prices for Covid vaccines globally vary from ₹730 to ₹2,700/dose.

“As directed by the Government, less than 10 per cent of our total production of Covaxin to date has been supplied to private hospitals, while most of the remaining quantity was supplied to State and Central governments. The weighted average price of Covaxin for all supplies realised by us is less than ₹250 per dose,” the statement said.

Covaxin requires a stringent Biosafety Level-3 (BSL3) containment facility. There are also other factors that determine the pricing such as the cost of raw materials and product failures. Bharat Bio said it has so far invested over ₹500 crore from its own resources.

Also read: Efficacy, safety data of Covaxin’s phase 3 trials being analysed, says Bharat Biotech

“In our view, the question of product pricing is only of extraneous interest to all concerned, especially when the same vaccine is made available free of cost,” the company said, adding that the procurement of vaccines by private hospitals is optional and not mandatory.

No to seek a revision now

Bharat Biotech, however, will not immediately seek a revision of price for doses being supplied to the Centre and the States. “We will honour and complete all existing commitments for the supply of vaccines and will think of seeking a revision in price for government supply afterwards,” a top official of the company told BusinessLine. No State government had cancelled any previous order so far after the announcement of new vaccine policy by the Centre, he said.

Production ramp-up

The production of Covaxin is being ramped up ‘significantly’ and is expected to touch 50-60 million doses per month by August-September from the present 25 million doses, the official said. “As of now, we are producing Covaxin in Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Ankleshwar. In Hyderabad alone, the vaccine is being made in five facilities,” he added.

The company had already transferred technology to Indian Immunologicals Ltd and few other players are readying the infrastructure and equipment required for manufacturing Covaxin. “We are also in discussions to see if the vaccine could be manufactured in some locations abroad,” he added.

Bharat Biotech did not export any doses in May and June as it is focussing on ramping up domestic supplies.

 

 

Published on June 15, 2021

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