Bharat Biotech announces Covaxin prices: ₹600 per dose for states
Bharat Biotech said on Saturday that it will sell its Covid-19 vaccine Covaxin to state governments at ₹600 per dose, while it will supply the vaccine directly to private hospitals at rs 1,200 per dose, an announcement that came days after the Serum Institute of India released the pricing of Covishield ahead of the widening of the immunisation drive against the infectious disease to cover all adults from May 1.
Covaxin was developed by the Hyderabad-based firm in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research and the National Institute of Virology. It is one of the two vaccines that are currently deployed in India’s vaccination drive, which was launched on January 16.
“Bharat Biotech is honoured to develop, manufacture and supply Covaxin for India’s vaccine roll out at ₹150 per dose, which is distributed for free by the government of India. We would like to state that more than 50% of our capacities have been reserved for central government supplies. Following the directive of the government of India, we announce the price of Covaxin: ₹600- state governments; ₹1200- private hospitals; and exports- $15-$20…,” Bharat Biotech said in a statement.
The second interim Phase 3 analysis of the first make-in-India Covid-19 vaccine, Covaxin, has shown 78% efficacy, its maker has said. The company first released its preliminary Phase 3 analysis results in March, showing 81% efficacy based on 43 cases. In this round, a vaccine efficacy of 78% was recorded against mild, moderate, and severe symptoms of Covid-19 based on 127 cases.
“Covaxin is an inactivated and highly purified vaccine, making manufacturing expensive due to very low process yields. All costs towards product development, manufacturing facilities, and clinical trials were deployed primarily using internal funding and resources of Bharat Biotech,” said Krishna Ella, chairman and managing director, Bharat Biotech.
“Recovering costs is essential in the journey of innovation towards other vaccines such as intranasal Covid-19, Chikungunya, Zika, Cholera and others. Our core mission for the last 25 years has been to provide affordable, yet world-class health care solutions for the globe,” he added.
Bharat Biotech’s price announcement came after the Centre announced on April 19 that the vaccination drive would be opened up to all adults and that vaccine manufacturers were allowed to supply 50% of their monthly doses to the central government, and the remaining 50% doses to state governments and in the open market at pre-decided prices.
India currently has two Covid-19 vaccines in use for the national Covid-19 immunisation porgarmme: Covaxin and Covishield. Covaxin is co-developed by Bharat Biotech and ICMR, and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is locally manufactured by the Serum Institute of India under the brand name Covishield.
On Friday, SII announced that it will sell Covishield to state governments at ₹400, and to private hospitals at ₹600.
“This (Covaxin price) is probably much higher compared to what they announced in local media in the initial stages. Even though I am not an expert on cost of vaccines, I hope the governments have been consulted before deciding on this high a price,” said Dr Giridhara Babu, head, epidemiology, Indian Institute of Public Health.
Bharat Biotech currently manufactures about 10 million doses of Covaxin each month, and is looking at manufacturing scale-up in a stepwise manner across multiple facilities at Hyderabad and Bengaluru.
With the help of the central government, the company is working towards ramping up the production capacity by at least 100% by May-June, 2021, with a target of producing nearly 100 million doses per month by September 2021.
The company is exploring manufacturing partnerships with partners in other countries, who have prior expertise with commercial scale manufacture of inactivated viral vaccines under biosafety containment. To further increase capacities, Bharat Biotech has partnered with Indian Immunologicals (IIL) to manufacture the drug substance for Covaxin.