Days before the commencement of the nationwide COVID-19 inoculation drive, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on Tuesday that in addition to 'Covishield' and 'Covaxin', four more vaccines are currently in the country's pipeline.
1.1 crore 'Covishield' and 55 lakh 'Covaxin' vaccines have been procured at a cost of Rs 200 and Rs 206 per dose, respectively, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said.
'Covishield' is developed by the Oxford University and British-Swedish company AstraZeneca and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII).
Bharat Biotech has developed the indigenous vaccine 'Covaxin' in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research and the National Institute of Virology.
Four more vaccines
In addition to that, India is looking forward to four more vaccines developed by Zydus Cadilla, Russia's Sputnik-V, Biological E and Gennova, the Health Secretary said.
According to reports, Zydus Cadilla is currently in the Phase-III clinical trials after being granted approval for the same following the completion of the Phase-II trials in December last year.
Similarly, the Phase-III trials for Russia's Sputnik-V vaccine are being carried out by Dr Reddy's Laboratories in India, while both Biological E's and Gennova's RnA-based COVID-19 vaccines are slated to enter Phase-II clinical trials later in March this year.
The Health Secretary also provided substantial information regarding the pricing of the COVID-19 vaccines in the pipeline.
"As many as 110 lakh (1.1 crore) doses of Covishield vaccine are being procured from the Serum Institute of India at a cost of Rs 200 per dose, excluding taxes. A total of 55 lakh doses of Covaxin vaccine are being procured from Bharat Biotech," Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said during a press conference.
The cost of 38.5 lakh doses of Covaxin is Rs 295 per dose, excluding taxes. Bharat Biotech is providing 16.5 lakh doses of Covaxin free of cost to the Central government. Hence, the cost of Covaxin comes to Rs 206 per dose," he added.
Pfizer-BioNTech's mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine will cost Rs 1,431 in India, as it is priced at USD 19.50.
Moderna's mRNA-based shot, too, will cost a staggering Rs 2,348-2,715 per dose.
The cost of Sputnik V's vaccine will be somewhere around Rs 734, according to the Health Ministry's estimates, as will be the one developed by Johnson & Johnson.
States receive the first batch of vaccine
Vaccines have already reached some states. Till 4 PM, about 54,72,000 doses were received by the states and Union Territories. By January 14, 100 per cent doses will be received.
The much-awaited Covid-19 vaccination drive will kick-off on January 16. The Central government plans to vaccinate nearly 30 crore people in the first phase of the drive. Priority will be given to the healthcare and frontline workers who are estimated to be around three crore, followed by those above 50 years of age and the under-50 population with comorbidities numbering around 27 crore.
On January 3, two vaccines -- Bharat Biotech's Covaxin and Oxford-AstraZeneca's Covishield manufactured by the Serum Institute of India -- were approved for 'restricted emergency use'. Few more vaccines are in the pipeline and are conducting trials.
COVID-19 vaccination programme
Speaking on the preparedness for the COVID-19 vaccination drive, Bhushan said, "All preparations are on track for COVID-19 vaccine roll out from January 16. A total of 26 virtual meetings/training were held with states/UTs, 2,360 master trainers, 61,000 programme managers, 2 lakh vaccinators, 3.7 lakh other vaccination team members have been trained so far." The health secretary said it will be a sequential roll-out of COVID-19 vaccination as the vaccine will be available in a limited quantity.
"In the first phase of vaccination, approximately 1 crore health care workers, approximately 2 crore front line workers and around 27 crore prioritized age-groups will be vaccinated. The cost of vaccination of health care workers and front line workers will be borne by central government solely," he said.
The inoculation effect takes 14 days to develop after the administration of the two dosages. Hence it is imperative to maintain COVID-19 appropriate behavior before and after one gets vaccinated, Bhushan added.
(With inputs from agencies)