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No Covid vaccine shortage in any state, renegotiating price of doses: Centre

A health worker holds a vial of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine as he prepares to vaccinate a Palestinian man against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at a United Nations-run clinic in Gaza City March 11, 2021. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem (REUTERS)Premium
A health worker holds a vial of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine as he prepares to vaccinate a Palestinian man against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at a United Nations-run clinic in Gaza City March 11, 2021. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem (REUTERS)

  • As part of its second phase of the Covid-19 vaccination campaign, the Centre aims to inoculate about 27 crore people and it has renegotiated the price of the vaccine being bought from the Serum Institute

In a routine press briefing, the Union Health Ministry on Thursday spoke about the coronavirus vaccine situation in the country, clarifying that there is no vaccine shortage in any state in the country.

On reducing the price of the Covid-19 vaccine, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said, "We have re-negotiated the price for the vaccine. The re-negotiated price is significantly lower."

As part of its second phase of the Covid-19 vaccination campaign, the Centre aims to inoculate about 27 crore people and it has renegotiated the price of the vaccine being bought from the Serum Institute of India (SII).

The health ministry today came out with a statement regarding the reduction in Covishield price for phase 2.

The price of Covishield, developed by the Oxford University and AstraZeneca and manufactured by the world's biggest vaccine maker Serum Institute, has been reduced to 160 per dose (including taxes) from 210 earlier, for the current phase of vaccination.

The government had earlier revealed the vaccine prices for the current phase in Parliament. "The manufacturer of Covishield has agreed to supply 10 crore doses for 150 plus GST per dose," the health ministry said in a written reply in the Upper House.

The price reduction may unlikely have any impact on the final price charged from people vaccinating at private hospitals as the Covid-19 vaccines are already subsidised by the Centre.

In round two of the vaccination drive, people over 60 and between 45 and 60 with co-morbidities will be vaccinated. The SII will charge 150 for a dose of Covishield plus 5% GST, amounting to about 157.50 price per dose, according to the latest order details.

Experts suggest the price in the first round was higher as the government placed an order for around 6.6 crore jabs, while the second-order amounted to about 10 crore vaccines. Besides India, Covishield is being sold between $4-5.25 per shot in other parts of the world. Under the Covax facility, which aims to distribute vaccines to 191 participating countries at a fair price, Covishield will cost $3-3.15 per dose.

While government hospitals are offering the Covid-19 jabs for free, private hospitals charge 150 per dose plus 100 administration fee.

Two coronavirus vaccines -- Covishield manufactured by Serum Institute of India and Covaxin manufactured by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech -- have been granted permission for restricted use in an emergency situation by India's drug controller so far.

The health ministry today also raised concern over the surge in novel coronavirus cases in a few states in India, including the massive explosion of infections in Maharashtra in the last few weeks.

"We are very worried about Maharashtra. This is a serious matter. This has two lessons- don't take the virus for granted and if we have to remain COVID free, then, we need to follow COVID appropriate behaviour," said Dr VK Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, .

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