On Covaxin open market price, Bharat Biotech says 'never took money from govt'
The open market price of Serum Institute's Covishield and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin remains a contentious issue as it is likely to be far higher than ₹150 per dose, the subsidised rate the Centre purchased vaccines from the manufacturers.
As the Centre has now 'liberalised vaccine pricing so that vaccine manufacturers can sell 50 per cent of their v in the open market— keeping the other 50 per cent for Centre — the pricing remains a contentious issue. Dr Krishna Ella, chairman and managing director of Bharat Biotech which made Covaxin has said he would like to get the maximum price to cover all costs, including the ₹350 crore that the company spent on clinical trials, Mint reported.
Speaking at the 6th National Leadership of All India Management Association, Dr Ella said Bharat Biotech had not asked the government for any money for the clinical trials or any advance money for increasing the capacity of vaccine manufacturing. To meet the demand of phase 3 of the vaccine drive, which will begin from May 1, Bharat Biotech is setting a target of producing 30 million doses, which will soon be accelerated to 70 to 75 million doses per month.
The Centre has approved a payment of about ₹4,500 crore as advance to Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech — the two vaccine makers of the country, for ramping up their supplies. Out of this ₹4,500 crore, Serum will get ₹3,000 crore and Bharat Biotech will get ₹1,500 crore.
Though Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla and Bharat Biotech MD Dr Krishna Ella have not anything explicitly on the pricing, reports suggest that the price of Covaxin and Covishield in the open market can be around ₹1,000 per dose, while in government facilities, vaccines will remain free. Both the companies supplied vaccines at a subsidies rate of around ₹200, which was later negotiated to ₹150, to the Centre for the first and second phase of vaccinations in which healthcare workers, frontline workers, people above the age of 45 years were inoculated. For people above 45 years, the government allowed private facilities to charge a maximum of ₹250 for each dose of the vaccine, which includes ₹150 for the vaccine and ₹100 as the service charge.
For the open market, the Centre has not fixed any upper limit. What it has said is that the makers will have to announce a transparent price before May 1, while it will set aside the other 50 per cent for the Centre. Serum Institute will supply 200 million doses and Bharat Biotech will supply another 90 million doses to the government by July at the pre-agreed rate.