Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech has reduced the price of its COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin by Rs 200 for state governments. The vaccine, which earlier cost Rs 600 per dose for state governments, will now cost Rs 400. The reduction in Covaxin prices comes a day after Pune-based Serum Institute of India reduced the price of its COVID-19 vaccine Covishield for state governments from Rs 400 to Rs 300.
Bharat Biotech issued a statement that it reduced the prices in view of the COVID-19 situation in the country. â€śBharat Biotech is deeply concerned with the critical pandemic circumstances India is facing at this time. Recognizing the enormous challenges to the public health care system, we have made COVAXIN available to State Governments at a price of Rs. 400/dose,â€ť a statement from Bharat Biotech said.
â€śWe wish to be transparent in our approach to pricing which was determined by internally funded product development, several operationally-intensive BSL-3 manufacturing facilities (the first of its kind in our country) and clinical trials. We wish to champion "Innovation in India" and our commitment to public health is absolute,â€ť the statement added.
The Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech had fixed the price of Covaxin at Rs 600 per dose for state governments and at Rs 1,200 per dose for private hospitals. Serum Institute of India had earlier announced a price of Rs 400 per dose for Covishield, for state governments and Rs 600 per dose for private hospitals. Both vaccines are available to the central government at a rate of Rs 150 per dose.
Many, including health experts and opposition leaders, had questioned the difference in prices of the vaccine as the government opened the vaccination drive to all those above 18 years of age from May 1. On April 26, the Union government had last week asked the Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech to lower the price of their COVID-19 vaccines amid criticism from various states who accused the companies of profiteering during such a major crisis.
The Centre has relaxed its vaccination strategy in the third phase under which the country's large 18-plus population will get inoculated from May 1. Under the third phase of the national vaccination drive commencing next month, the vaccine manufacturers would supply 50 per cent of their monthly Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL) released doses to the central government and would be free to supply the remaining 50 per cent doses to state governments and in the open market, the government had said.
The government had said the manufacturers would have to make an advance declaration of the price for the 50 per cent supply that would be available to the state governments and in the open market.