Countries across the globe are in a rush to inoculate its citizens and get a handle on the pandemic, whereas India has at least 50 million doses and more, ready for use but the Central government and the Serum Institute of India are unable to reach a decision on the price of the Covishield vaccine. The airlifting of the vaccine was apparently supposed to start happening by 7 or 8 January, but it is likely to happen only by Monday now.
According to a letter released by Brazillian president’s office on Friday, amid border delays to vaccine’s arrival in Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil, asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to expedite a shipment of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine.
Meanwhile SII CEO, Adar Poonawalla said, “There is absolutely no price negotiation at all. The vaccine rollout will happen in a few days. There are due processes to be followed before we transport the vaccine doses”.
On 3 January, Adar Poonawalla said Indian officials have “orally” agreed to buy 100 million doses at a “special price” of 200 rupees ($2.74) a shot, below the about $4 to $5 price tag given to the U.K. government. The company then wants to sell vaccines privately to individuals and companies at a marked-up cost of 1,000 rupees within two to three months.
The Indian government is probably looking to add pressure on SII to lower its prices, as seen by their decision to greenlight a rival vaccine, Covaxin, developed by a local company, Bharat Biotech, which is still recruiting volunteers for final-stage testing.
SII has 50 million doses ready and packed for transportation and distribution at their Pune plant, but they are waiting for the government to place a formal order before they can undertake the massive transportation exercise. IndiGo, in an official statement, said, “In line with our business model and cost leadership strategy, we are happy to evaluate the shipment of Covid-19 vaccines onboard our aircraft and will promise to contribute to the best of our abilities”.