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COVID-19: At Rs 600 per dose, Indians might have to pay highest price for Covishield vaccine

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The cost of Rs 600 (about $8) per dose is higher than the AstraZeneca vaccine’s cost in any major global market.

Coronavirus vaccination in India: As India is dealing with a dangerous second wave of coronavirus, the vaccination drive in the country is set to enter the third phase from next month, when all people above the age of 18 years would be eligible to receive the jabs. However, Serum Institute of India (SII), which is manufacturing Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covishield, has fixed a rate of Rs 600 per dose for private hospitals. This means that people who decide to get vaccinated at private hospitals might have to end up paying the highest price for this vaccine all over the world, according to a report in IE.

This is the case even as SII CEO Adar Poonawalla had earlier said that the manufacturing firm was making profit even when each dose was priced at Rs 150. The cost of Rs 600 (about $8) per dose is higher than the AstraZeneca vaccine’s cost in any major global market.

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Not only in private hospitals, but those Indians who choose to get vaccinated at government prices might also end up paying Rs 400 or more than $5.30 per dose if the states were to decide that they would not be able to absorb the cost of procurement of fresh jabs.

This cost of Rs 400, which is applicable to both state and Centre for new procurement orders, is still higher than the price that the US, the UK, and the EU governments are paying directly to AstraZeneca to procure doses. This is also more than the price that SII agreed upon with countries like South Africa, Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia to supply them with vaccines.

Initially, the NDA government had negotiated with SII a price of Rs 150 plus GST for each dose of Covishield, translating to about $2.02 per dose, but Poonawalla has clarified that it was a subsidised rate and only applicable for a limited time. In an interview to a TV channel, the CEO had said that while providing doses at Rs 150, the firm was foregoing “super profits” which it needs in order to increase capacity.

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