In a big development on Monday, sources revealed that the Centre has asked the Serum Institute of India and the Bharat Biotech to lower the price of their COVID-19 vaccines. This assumes significance ahead of the new phase of inoculation beginning May 1 whereby all persons aged above 18 will be eligible for novel coronavirus vaccination. Several opposition parties such as Congress had demanded the same pricing for state governments and the Centre.
While the Centre's procurement price for both COVISHIELD and COVAXIN remains at Rs.150 per dose, state governments and private hospitals will have to purchase them at a higher cost. For instance, SII has announced that it will sell COVISHIELD to the state governments and private hospitals at Rs.400 and Rs.600 per dose respectively. On the other hand, Bharat Biotech has offered COVAXIN at Rs.600 per dose to state governments and Rs.1200 per dose to private hospitals. Moreover, it has priced exports at $15 - $20.
Govt asks Serum Institute, Bharat Biotech to lower price of COVID vaccines as India gears up to inoculate all aged above 18: Official sources— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) April 26, 2021
Apart from COVISHIELD and COVAXIN, the DCGI accepted the recommendations of the Subject Expert Committee of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation, paving way for the approval of Sputnik V on April 12. Moreover, the Union government declared that those vaccines that have been granted emergency approval for restricted use by USFDA, EMA, UK MHRA, PMDA Japan, or which are listed in WHO (Emergency Use Listing) will be granted emergency use approval in India. In place of the local clinical trial requirement, the post-approval bridging clinical trial shall be mandated.
In a huge announcement on April 19, the Centre relaxed the age bar for vaccination from May 1 onwards and mentioned that vaccine manufacturers can supply 50 per cent of its doses to state governments and in the open market. The private hospitals shall have to procure their supplies of the COVID-19 vaccines exclusively from this quota. However, they will have to follow all protocols such as being captured on the CoWIN platform and linked to AEFI reporting.
At the same time, vaccination shall continue at Government of India vaccination centres for healthcare and frontline workers and those above 45 years. Additionally, the Centre stated that it will allocate vaccine doses to the states from the remaining 50% quota based on factors such as the number of active cases, speed of administration and vaccine wastage. A total of 11,97,38,404 persons have been inoculated in India till now, 2,25,66,974 of them have received the second dose of the vaccine too.