As India gears up for the world's largest COVID vaccination drive from January 16, Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawala called the dispatch of the vaccines a 'historical moment', sharing details of the vaccine's market price and international supply. "This is a historical moment that vaccine is being dispatched from our factory. Our main challenge is to bring it to everyone in the country. It is our challenge for 2021, let's see how it happens," said the SII CEO.
Elaborating on the price of the COVID-19 vaccine, Poonawala said that SII would initially focus on making the vaccine available at a reasonable price to the healthcare workers instead of focusing on profits. For the first 100 million doses, the vaccine would be available at just Rs 200.
"We've given a special price of Rs 200 for the first 100 million doses only to GoI on their request, that we want to support common man, vulnerable, poor, healthcare workers. After that, we'll be selling it at Rs 1000 in private markets. To Govt of India, we'll still maintain a very reasonable price but it will be a little bit more than Rs 200 which is our cost price. So we decided not to make any profit, we wanted to support the nation & Govt of India for the first 100 million doses," said Adar Poonawala.
Meanwhile, speaking on the international demand for the vaccine, Poonawala stated that India was planning its logistics for an international supply chain to Africa and South America. "A lot of countries have been writing to India & PMO for vaccines to be supplied from Serum Institute to their countries. We're trying to keep everyone happy. We've to take care of our population & nation as well. We're trying to supply vaccines to Africa, South America. So we're doing a little bit everywhere. So we'll try to keep everyone happy," he said.
"We make 70-80 million doses every month. Planning is underway to see how many will be given to India and foreign countries. Health Ministry has made logistics plans. We also have a partnership with private players for trucks, vans, and cold storage," he added.
Meanwhile, in a massive development, the first consignment containing vials of Covishield vaccine left Pune's Serum Institute of India in the early hours of Tuesday with Poonawala calling it an 'emotional moment for the team.' Amid tight security, 3 trucks carrying the very first consignment of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 have been dispatched from the Pune airport to be flown to 13 different locations across the country.