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Govt seals deal for SII’s Covid vaccine at Rs 200 per dose

Govt seals deal for SII’s Covid vaccine at Rs 200 per dose

The government has finalised a purchase order of 11 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine with Serum Institute of India, the Pune-based pharmaceutical confirmed on Monday. The cost of the vaccine to the government is Rs 200 per dose for the first 100 million doses.

The announcement came on a day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a virtual meeting with chief ministers of states to discuss the Covid-19 vaccine rollout, which is scheduled to begin on January 16.

SII chief executive officer Adar Poonawalla had told the media earlier that the vaccine would be priced at about Rs 1,000 per dose for the private market in India while the price for the government would be around Rs 250 per dose.

However, government officials were of the view that there is scope for bringing down the price to around Rs 200 per dose. This will help to reduce the government’s expenditure as the vaccination process has to be carried out on a massive scale in a country with a population of 1.3 billion.

Initially it will be the SII-produced vaccine that will be mostly used as it has a head start in production and much fewer doses of the Bharat Biotech vaccine are currently available.

Around 50 million doses of the vaccine have already been manufactured and have been stocked at the SII factory in Pune. These will now be airlifted to various distribution centres across the country.

While the SII vaccine is priced much lower than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the government is of the view that the large scale on which the vaccine will be distributed provides sufficient economies of scale for the company for the price to be cut further. Besides the Covid a situation is about saving humanity rather than making profits.

The plan is to cover 30 crore people in the first phase of the inoculation programme over the next 6 months. Priority will be given to healthcare workers, frontline staff such as police followed by people over the age of 50 and those with co-morbidities.

There is a huge demand for Serum Institute vaccine abroad as well, with around 150 countries including Brazil interesting in importing the product..