Centre asks Serum Institute, Bharat Biotech to reduce COVID-19 vaccine prices


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The central government on April 26, 2021 asked the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech to lower the price of their Covid-19 vaccines amid protest and criticism from states. 

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, during his press briefing yesterday, had appealed to both the vaccine manufacturers to keep their prices same for all. He appealed to them saying that this was not the time to earn profits when there is a raging pandemic. He had also appealed to the centre to cap the price of the vaccines if needed.

The issue of vaccine pricing was then discussed during a meeting chaired by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba. The two vaccine manufacturers are now expected to come up with revised pricing for their vaccines.

COVID-19 vaccine prices for states

•Both Serum Institute of India and Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech had earlier released new prices for the state governments and private hospitals. 

•Serum Institute, the manufacturer of the Covishield vaccine, fixed the price of its vaccine at Rs 400 per dose for state governments and Rs 600 per dose for private hospitals.

•On the other hand, Bharat Biotech, manufacturer of Covaxin, fixed the price of its vaccine at Rs 600 per dose for the state governments and Rs 1200 per dose for private hospitals. 

•However, both the manufacturers decided to continue to keep their vaccine price for the centre at Rs 150 per dose. 

•This move had raised criticism among the state governments, who raised the issue of how the manufacturers can keep separate pricing for the centre and state. 

Background

•The central government had on April 19, 2021 relaxed its vaccination strategy, making everyone above the age of 18 years eligible for vaccination from May 1st. 

•In this third phase of vaccination, the state governments and private hospitals have been given a go-ahead to procure the vaccines directly from the vaccine manufacturers, instead of following the central government route. 

•Under the new directions, the vaccine manufacturers will supply 50 percent of their monthly Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL)-released doses to the central government and will be free to supply the remaining 50 percent to state governments and the open market.

•The manufacturers were required to make an advance declaration of the price for the 50 percent supply that would be available to state governments and in the open market.

•SII has defended pricing Covishield at 1.5 times the initial rate, saying the earlier price was based on advance funding, and the company has to now invest in scaling up and expanding capacity to produce more shots.

•Announcing the price of Covaxin, Bharat Biotech Chairman and Managing Director Krishna M Ella had said that recovering cost is essential for innovation.





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