Ahead of India’s 3rd phase of vaccination drive, the debate over the pricing of vaccines has further intensified due to reported fluctuations in the pricing. Serum Institute of India (SII) on Wednesday reduced the price of its vaccine for the states from ₹400 to ₹300. Subsequently, Bharat Biotech on Thursday reduced the cost of its vaccine for state governments from ₹600 to ₹400.
Both the vaccine manufacturers Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech were being accused of profiteering when they announced their vaccine prices initially.
Acknowledging the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, Bharat Biotech said that they wished to be transparent in their approach to pricing which was determined by internally funded product development, several operationally intensive BSL-3 manufacturing facilities (the first of its kind in the country) and clinical trials. It further said that recognizing the enormous challenges to the public Healthcare system, they had made covaxin available to state governments at a price of ₹400 per dose.
As per the initial pricing, one dose of Covishield was priced at ₹400 for states and ₹600 for private hospitals. The initial price of one dose of Covaxin for states was ₹600 while it was ₹1200 for private hospitals.
However, the centre maintained that it’ll continue to procure both Covishield and Covaxin at ₹150, and, will send to states as it has been doing already.
This difference in pricing became a controversial issue as several states also announced free vaccination, thus, making state exchequers paying for vaccine procurement. As states raised issue, the centre asked both the manufacturers to reduce vaccine prices for state governments.