The world's largest vaccine manufacturer Serum Institute of India (SII) on Saturday strongly defended the pricing of the Covid-19 vaccine Covishield saying that it is still lower than a lot of other medical treatment and essentials required to treat the coronavirus pandemic and other life-threatening diseases.
SII CEO Adar Poonawalla issued a clarification amid the row over the sale of Covishield at Rs 600 per dose to private hospitals, Rs 400 to state governments and Rs 150 to the Centre from May 1 when vaccination opens to everyone over the age of 18.
The company said that only a limited portion of its volume will be sold to private hospitals at Rs 600 per dose. ‘’There was an inaccurate comparison done between the global prices of the vaccine with India. Covisheld is the most affordable Covid-19 vaccine available in the market today. The price of the vaccine is still lower than a lot of other medical treatment and essentials required to treat Covid-19 and other life-threatening diseases," it added.
"The initial prices of Covishield were kept very low globally as it was based on advance funding given by those countries for at-risk vaccine manufacturing. The initial supply price for all government immunisation programmes, including India, has been the lowest," the company said.
The company also said that while the current situation is "dire, the virus is constantly mutating while the public remains at risk. “We have to ensure sustainability as we must be able to invest in scaling up and expanding our capacity to fight the pandemic and save lives,” it said.
The company issued clarification after media reports that the people in the country at Rs 600 per dose the pay the most compared to other countries for Covishield vaccine at private hospitals.
Further, the company said in the interest of public health, it is important for the market to open up for other vaccines from across the world. This will accelerate and advance the immunization programme. ‘’We hope this lay to rest the confusion for which we are happy to in a fully transparent manner explain our various pricing policies,’’ it added.
Meanwhile, the Union Minister of Health Dr Harsh Vardhan in a tweet clarified that the Centre will continue to procure the Covishield and Covaxin produced in India at Rs 150 per dose. ‘’Government of India’s procurement price for both #COVID19Vaccines remains at Rs 150 per dose. These doses will continue to be provided to the states FREE OF COST.’’