Serum Institute of India’s Covishield will cost states Rs 300 instead of Rs 400, CEO Adar Poonawalla tweeted today, calling it a “philanthropic gesture”.
“As a philanthropic gesture on behalf of Serum Institute of India, I hereby reduce the price to the states from Rs.400 to Rs.300 per dose, effective immediately; this will save thousands of crores of state funds going forward. This will enable more vaccinations and save countless lives,” Mr Poonawalla wrote in his tweet.
The higher prices of vaccines for states and private hospitals have provoked anger and debate since Serum made the announcement weeks ago.
From May 1, as vaccinations open to all adults, states and private entities can buy doses directly from manufacturers under the Centre’s liberalized policy to tackle the explosion of Covid cases.
State governments and private hospitals can order up to 50 per cent of Serum’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin to inoculate the younger population, while the centre will buy the other half to continue vaccinating those above 45 free of cost. Serum said it would continue to provide vaccines to the centre at Rs 150 a shot.
While Serum announced a price of Rs 400 rupees for states and Rs 600 for private hospitals, Bharat Biotech set the prices at Rs 600 and Rs 1,200 a dose. These, according to reports, would mean the highest price at any private hospitals across the world for Covishield – the Indian name for the vaccine developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca.
Serum CEO Adar Poonawalla had said the subsidized rate of Rs 150 per dose to the government was only for a “limited” period of time. “We’re supplying in India at approximately Rs 150-160. The average price is around $20 (Rs 1,500)… (but) because of the Modi government’s request, we are providing at subsidised rates… It is not that we’re not making profits… but we are not making super profits, which is key to re-investing,” he told NDTV earlier this month.