A day after Covaxin manufacturer Bharat Biotech MD announced that it will sell its vaccine at maximum price, Serum Institute of India also announced that it will sell its Covishield vaccine at Rs. 600 per dose at private hospitals and Rs. 400 per dose for state governments.
Serum Institute of India has been manufacturing one of the two approved COVID-19 vaccines: Covishield. On Wednesday, SII CEO Adar Poonawalla announced that it will reserve its 50% of the total vaccines for the Governments vaccination drive and will sell 50% to state governments and private hospitals. The decision is compliant with the govt laid down policy that will come to effect from May 1.
Serum Institute Welcomes Govt’s Decision
The Pune-based world’s largest vaccine manufacturer in its statement also lauded the govt’s liberalized vaccination policy that states that everyone above 18 will be eligible for vaccination. “The promising directives will help to scale up vaccine production, and allow state governments, private hospitals, and vaccination centers to procure vaccines directly,” SII in its statement added.
Open markets will get Covishield in 4-5 months
In its announcement the company also appealed to corporate vaccine sellers to seek access to the vaccines through the state devised logistics and machinery. Moreover, it said that it was confident that open market will get the vaccines in the next 4-5 months.
“Did not wait for the govt for Rs. 3,000 crores. Borrowed from banks.”: Adar Poonawalla
On Wednesday, April 21, SII CEO Adar also spoke to NDTV in which he said that his company borrowed Rs. 3,000 crores from finance institutes without waiting for the government. “We have not waited but borrowed from the banks to get on with the ramp up, with the assumption that this funding from the government will reach us very soon,” Mr. Poonawalla claimed.
Mr. Poonawalla’s claim came just a day after Central govt approved Rs. 4,500 crores as advance to Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech. Off this Rs. 4,500 crores, SII will be given an amount of Rs. 3,000 crores and Bharat Biotech will receive Rs. 1,500 crores. This funding is given to the vaccine manufacturers to boost their production capacity.
Uproar from opposition
Meanwhile, after SII announced the prices for Covishield for the open market, there was an uproar from opposition leaders that questioned why the state governments are needed to pay Rs. 400 for a dose and Centre has to pay only Rs. 150 for it.
Trinamool Member of Parliament Mahua Moitra took to Twitter and wrote, “Is there anyone who is a citizen of a state who is not a citizen of India? So why is vaccine priced ₹150 for Centre and ₹400 for state?”
Is there anyone who is a citizen of a state who is not a citizen of India?
So why is vaccine priced ₹150 for Centre and ₹400 for state ?
— Mahua Moitra (@MahuaMoitra) April 21, 2021
DMK President MK Stalin also sent out a tweet saying, “The differential pricing for vaccines between Union & State Governments is discriminatory and defeats the objective of universal vaccination. Urge @PMOIndia to ensure common vaccine prices for all.”
The differential pricing for vaccines between Union & State Governments is discriminatory and defeats the objective of universal vaccination.
Urge @PMOIndia to ensure common vaccine prices for all.
States must also receive Central funding to procure vaccines as per their needs. pic.twitter.com/sRiNmKWIJl
— M.K.Stalin (@mkstalin) April 21, 2021
Congress leader and former Finance Minister also tweeted saying, “How many people between the age of 18-44 will be able to afford Rs. 400 per dose? Will the cost of the vaccine be a burden on the beneficiary? How many states will be able to pay the vaccine price and be able to give people the subsidy?”
18 से 44 वर्ष के बीच के कितने व्यक्ति 400 रुपये प्रति डोज का भुगतान कर सकते हैं? क्या लाभार्थी पर लागत का बोझ होगा?
कितने राज्य वैक्सीन की कीमत चुकाने और लोगों को सब्सिडी देने के लिए तैयार होंगे?
— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) April 21, 2021
Serum Institute CEO Gives Clarity on Covishield price
After the uproar, Mr. Poonawalla gave some clarity and said how there has been no differentiation between the Central and the State governments. He was quoted by Press Trust of India saying both the State and the Centre will be paying Rs. 400 for a dose after the SII’s contract with the Govt ends.
Mr. Poonawalla said that Rs. 150 per dose was a subsidized price as per earlier contracts. The price was set before the confirmation that the vaccine will work and it was a “risk-sharing” price for a limited amount of vaccine quantities.
“Now that the vaccine is licensed and is showing good efficacy, we have now announced, based on the new policy of the government, these prices,” he claimed.