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Home / Companies / News /  SII says Covishield cheaper than most covid-19 medical treatment

NEW DELHI: Defending the pricing of Covishield, Serum Institute of India chief executive officer Adar Poonawalla on Saturday said the vaccine was cheaper than most covid-19 treatments, and increasing its price was necessary to keep its production sustainable.

The company will charge 400 per dose for Covishield from the Centre and states for fresh orders and 600 per dose from private hospitals from 1 May.

“Only a limited portion of SII's volume will be sold to private hospitals at INR 600 per dose. The price of the vaccine is still lower than a lot of other medical treatment and essentials required to treat covid-19 and other life-threatening diseases," Serum Institute of India said in the statement.

He said that the new pricing was announced after identifying the uncertainty due to presence of mutant strains even as most of the public remained at risk.

“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," he said.

He added that it is important for the Indian market to open-up for other vaccines from across the world to accelerate and advance the immunization program of the country.

Poonawalla’s statement followed a report by The Indian Express on Saturday which showed that the new price of 400-600 ($5.3-8.0) per dose of Covishield in India was higher than the price charged by the company and the vaccine’s co-developer AstraZeneca plc in other countries and World Health Organization-led Covax, where it sought anywhere between $3 to $5.25 per dose. In the US, AstraZeneca is planning to sell the vaccine at $4 per dose.

The company is currently supplying the vaccine to the Indian government at 150 ($2) per dose, which is the lowest anywhere in the world. However, Poonawalla on Wednesday announced the new prices, saying that all fresh orders for both central and state governments will be 400 per dose.

While in an interview to news channel NDTV earlier this month, Poonawalla had said that the company was making profit at 150 but it was not enough to reinvest in scaling up capacity, on Wednesday, Poonawalla in his statement to Mint said that the company was “losing money at the current price point" of 150.

On Saturday, he said “the initial prices were kept very low globally as it was based on advance funding given by those countries for at-risk vaccine manufacturing", adding that the initial supply price of Covishield for all government immunization programme, including India, has been the lowest.

Announcement of new prices for Covishield of 400 and 600 per dose followed the government’s order on Monday, which to expand the scale of vaccination to include direct procurement by states and the private market.

According to the policy for phase 3 of the vaccination programme, all adults can be vaccinated starting 1 May. Those who are below 45 years or not healthcare and other frontline workers will not qualify for the central government’s free doses and will have to buy them from private hospitals.

Half of all the vaccines produced and sent to Central Drugs Laboratory for testing will go directly to the Centre for its existing vaccination programme. Vaccine makers will have to supply the other half to states and to the private market at a “pre-determined price".

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