In a huge development on Wednesday, Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla announced the reduction of COVISHIELD's procurement price for the state governments from Rs.400 to Rs.300 per dose. This comes in the wake of the Centre asking the SII and the Bharat Biotech to lower the price of their COVID-19 vaccines. The move 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.
Making this announcement on Twitter, Poonawalla opined that this will save the financial resources of state governments worth thousands of crores. Moreover, he asserted that this shall help accelerate the pace of the vaccination drive and save an enormous number of lives. While the Centre's procurement price for both COVISHIELD and COVAXIN remains at Rs.150 per dose, state governments and private hospitals have to purchase them at a higher cost. For instance, Bharat Biotech has offered COVAXIN at Rs.600 per dose to state governments and Rs.1200 per dose to private hospitals.
As a philanthropic gesture on behalf of @SerumInstIndia, 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.— Adar Poonawalla (@adarpoonawalla) April 28, 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. So far, a total of 14,78,27,367 persons have been inoculated in India.