Covishield will be sold at Rs 400 a shot to state governments and Rs 600 to private hospitals, the Serum Institute of India (SII) said today ahead of the new round of vaccinations from May 1 that will include all above 18.
The centre will continue to receive Covishield doses at Rs 150 each.
Serum Institute said the vaccines were still more affordable than foreign vaccines, which cost from Rs 750 to Rs 1,500 a shot.
As part of the government’s new policy, 50 per cent of vaccine doses will be reserved for the centre and the rest will be divided between states and private hospitals.
An additional 1.2 million doses will be needed when vaccinations open to all adults. Several states have flagged a shortage of Covid vaccine shots.
With the government announcing Rs 4,500 crore aid to vaccine-makers Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech – which produces the made-in-India Covaxin – Serum chief Adar Poonawalla says a ramp-up will start immediately and by the end of May, there will be 15 to 20 per cent more doses of Covishield in the market.
In an exclusive interview to NDTV, Mr Poonawalla also said the doses would be “evenly split” between states and private suppliers and that prices would vary from the centre to states and private hospitals.
Mr Poonawalla said his company would be able to supply over 100 million doses per month after July.
“We are ramping up immediately and the big ramp-up will happen post-July. But even between now and July we will ramp up 15 to 20 per cent in our monthly capacities. Starting by the end of May, there will be 15-20 per cent more doses in the market. After July, it will be 40 per cent… so after July we will cross 100 million doses per month,” he told NDTV.
Mr Poonawalla recently reached out to US President Joe Biden in a tweet urging him to lift the embargo on the export of raw materials needed for the production of the Covishield in India.
“The US government responded through the media. We’ve seen reports of them saying they acknowledge and understand the issue. They are looking into it but (there is) no opening up as yet for the raw materials that they know very well exactly that are required…,” he said.
He added that this problem would not impact prices of the Covid shot in India. “No this will not affect our price because we can find alternative suppliers to the US, but that is just taking more time. And that will affect the stockpiling of Covovax, not Covishield, luckily,” he said.
Covovax is Serum’s version of the protein-based Covid vaccine developed by Novavax.
On the Centre’s aid, Mr Poonawalla said: “The Rs 3,000 crore amount we keep seeing in the media has been sanctioned. We believe it will come to us very soon. We have not waited but borrowed from the banks to get on with the ramp-up, with the assumption that this funding from the government will reach us very soon…this week.”
Amid a steep rising in Covid cases in India and reports of shortage, the centre paused exports under its “vaccine maitri” programme. Mr Poonawalla said he believed that situation would continue at least till July.
“There is no clarity on exports and we also right now feel that we should not look at exports for two months during these cases. Maybe in June-July we could start looking at small exports starting again. Right now we are going to prioritise the needs of the nation first,” he said.