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Covid-19 Vaccines: Centre issues clarification on procurement price ahead of Covid vaccination phase 3

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SIISIIThe Serum Institute of India has defended the pricing. (File Photo)

Covid-19 vaccination phase 3: Amid controversy over the price of Rs 600 per shot for Covishield vaccine, the Centre has issued a clarification saying that the Government of India will continue to procure both vaccines – Covaxin and Covishield – at Rs 150 per dose. “It is clarified that the government of India’s procurement price for both COVID-19 vaccines remains Rs 150 per dose. GOI procured doses will continue to be provided TOTALLY FREE to states,” the Ministry of Health said in a tweet today. But the government steered clear of making any comment on the higher prices that states and private hospitals will have to pay for purchasing these vaccines directly from manufacturers.

The government has announced the third phase of the vaccination drive in which all above the age of 18 years will be eligible for jabs.

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Under the new vaccination drive, which will begin from May 1, there will be three different prices of the same vaccine. While the Central government will continue to procure it at Rs 150 per dose, state governments will have to pay Rs 400 and private hospitals will be charged Rs 600.

So far, both vaccines were being procured by Centre and it was then distributed to states. But now the Centre will buy only 50 per cent of the supply and vaccine manufacturers have been allowed to supply the rest of the vaccines directly to state governments and private hospitals. Following this announcement, the Serum Institute of India – which is manufacturing Covishield vaccine – announced that its vaccine will be available for Rs 400 and Rs 600 per dose for state governments and private hospitals respectively.

This led to a controversy with Congress leader Jairam Ramesh citing some media reports wherein SII had claimed that it was making a profit even at Rs 150 per shot.

Meanwhile, the Serum Institute of India has defended the pricing and said that the initial pricing of Rs 150 per shot was based on advance funding.

“The initial price was kept low globally as it was based on advance funding given by those countries for at-risk vaccine manufacturing,” SII said.

“The current situation is extremely dire, the virus is constantly mutating while the public remains at risk. Identifying the uncertainty, we have to ensure sustainability as we must be able to invest in scaling up and expanding our capacity to fight the pandemic and save lives,” the company said.

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