NEW DELHI: The Centre on Saturday clarified that it will continue to procure COVID-19 vaccines Covishield and Covaxin at Rs 150 per dose when the new coronavirus inoculation policy, under which the initiative will be decentralised, comes into effect from May 1.
Under the new vaccination regime, all above 18 years of age will now be eligible for jabs, but the Centre will procure only 50% supply from the vaccine makers while the rest of the supply will be available to state governments and private hospitals for direct procurement.
Following the announcement on the new vaccination policy by the Narendra Modi government, the Serum Institute of India, manufacturer of Covishield which comprised of over 90% of all vaccine doses administered in India so far, said that it will be available for Rs 400 per dose to states and Rs 600 per dose to private hospitals.
The clarification by the Union ministry of health and family welfare meanwhile comes after former Union minister and Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, citing a news report, wrote on Twitter that the price of Covishield at Rs 400 for new government procurement is higher than what governments in other countries will pay.
He also said that by SII’s own admission, profits are made even at Rs 150 per shot.
In response to this, the ministry tweeted: “It is clarified that Govt of India’s procurement price for both #COVID19 vaccines remains Rs 150 per dose. GOI procured doses will continue to be provided TOTALLY FREE to States.”
Ramesh however retorted by saying that the vaccine price is still different for the Centre and states. “1. SII recently said ₹400 is the new price for ALL new govt procurements — States & Centre. What’s the truth? 2. States have to buy from SII at ₹400($5.30) —Highest in the World— for Made in India vaccine. Why?” he wrote.
Many experts have questioned the new vaccine policy by the Centre that will allow dominant market players like SII to generate a super profit per shot of the vaccine even as the country is amidst a fierce wave of the pandemic that has seen an addition of nearly 1 million cases in the last three days alone.