One day after Centre’s announcement of liberalizing the COVID-19 vaccination, Bharat Biotech’s MD announced that he would sell Covaxin at the maximum price to recover all costs. Dr. Krishna Ella, Chairman and MD of the Hyderabad-based vaccine manufacturer said that he would like to get the maximum price to cover the Rs. 350 crores that his company spent on the trials of the vaccine.
On April 19, 2021, a Narendra Modi headed meeting’s conclusion was to liberalize the current vaccination drive. In the third phase of the drive, anyone above the age of 18 would be eligible to get vaccination. Other important decision taken in the meeting was that vaccine manufacturers could sell 50% of their manufactured vaccine to the open market. With such a decision, now the pricing has come out as a controversial issue.
During the 6th National leadership of All India Management Association, Bharat Biotech’s MD Dr. Ella declared that he would want to sell the vaccines at their maximum price to cover the cost.
“Never asked for any advance money from gov”: Bharat Biotech MD
In his announcement, Dr. Ella said how his company had not approached the Indian govt for any money it needed for the clinical trials. He also said that Bharat Biotech also didn’t asked any advance money which would help in ramping up the vaccine manufacturing.
Will be manufacturing 70-75 million doses; First target of 30 million doses
Ella also said that the company will be looking to manufacture at least 70-75 million, starting with a target of 30 million doses. Speaking at the AIMA’s 6th National Leadership, Dr. Ella said that this target is made to meet the demand that will be seen during the 3rd phase of the vaccination drive all set to kick off from May 1.
Covishield and Covaxin to be sold at Rs. 1,000 per dose: Reports
Neither SII’s CEO Adar Poonawalla nor Bharat Biotech’s MD Dr. Elle have revealed as to what the vaccine’s price will be exactly. Though according to Hindustan Times, both the vaccines from these companies – Covaxin and Covisheld, will be sold in the open market at Rs. 1,000 per dose.
Vaccine given to govt at Rs. 200 per dose during first two vaccine drive phases
Prior to this, both the vaccines were procured by the govt at a subsidized rate of Rs. 200, which was later reduced to Rs. 200 in the first two phases of vaccination. The first two phases of vaccination targeted front-line and health care workers, and people above the age of 45 years. Govt had also put a cap price of Rs. 250 on the private vaccination centers that were targeting those above 45 years of age. This Rs. 250 was broken up into Rs. 150 for the vaccine and Rs. 100 as service charge.
No upper cap on maximum price of vaccine for private markets
After the decision of letting states procure 50% of the vaccines and remaining 50% left to be procured by open market, it remains to be seen that at what price are the vaccines sold. This is due to the fact that the Centre has not put an upper limit on the procure of vaccines by the open market. However, the Centre had explicitly mentioned that the vaccine makers would have to transparently announce the price at which they will sell the vaccines to open market before May 1.
“Sold Covishield to govt for Rs. 200, sacrificed on ‘super profits’: SII CEO Adar Poonawalla
It should be noted that Adar Poonawalla on April 6 had said that on the Indian government’s request Serum Institute was selling the Covishield at a special price of Rs. 200. “After that, we’ll be selling it at Rs 1,000 in private markets,” Mr. Poonawalla had reaffirmed.
Prior to that on April 6, Mr. Poonawalla had spoken to NDTV where he had told that his company has been sacrificing on “super profits” by selling vaccines at a subsidized rate of $2-3 whereas the average price of the vaccines was more than $20 in the rest of the world.