From May 1, India will make COVID-19 vaccines available to all individuals above the age of 18. To this end, the Serum Institute of India has announced a new pricing structure that will be followed in the months to come. Under this, Covishield will cost Rs 400 per dose for state governments and Rs 600 per dose for private hospitals. The company also said that in the next two months it would work to scale up vaccine production.
Under the third phase of its vaccination strategy, manufacturers will be required to supply 50 per cent of their monthly doses to the government and the rest to state governments or the open market. States have now been given the authority to open vaccination to any category of adults, as well as being empowered to procure additional doses directly from manufacturers.
It is not yet clear how the prices announced by SII would affect the price of vaccine doses across India. Soon after the announcement was made, politicians had said that the state governments of Assam and Uttar Pradesh intended to vaccinate the population above 18 years free of cost. It is likely that this option would extend to government vaccination centres in the relevant states. Keep in mind that the existing free vaccination policy for those above the age of 45 as well as healthcare and frontline workers will continue.
But in the private sector, prices are likely to see a significant rise. Under the new guidelines, private hospitals will have to procure vaccines exclusively from the 50% made available on the open market. The prices for the same will be determined by manufacturers. Similar rules will apply to foreign manufactured vaccines if and when they come to India.