The Serum Institute of India (SII) today made an important announcement following the Indian Government's decision to make Covishield, the vaccine for Covid-19, available to all age groups above 18 years from May 1.
In a statement released by SII, its CEO Adar Poonawalla said, "Following the Government of India directives, the prices of the vaccine will be Rs 400 per dose for state governments and Rs 600 per dose for private hospitals."
Poonawalla adds that they would ensure that the vaccine would be available at affordable prices in comparison to international rates of other vaccines, such as American vaccines being sold at Rs 1500 while Russian and Chinese cost Rs 750.
Welcoming the central government's decision to accelerate the vaccination drive, the statement said, "The promising directive will help scale up vaccine production and allow state governments, private hospitals and vaccine centres to procure vaccines directly."
SII plans to increase its production in the next two months to address shortages. The company will share 50 percent of its production with the central government and remaining 50 percent with the state governments and private hospitals.
On April 7, Adar Poonawalla had sought Rs 3,000 crore from the central government to expand their production capacity in the backdrop of increasing demand as the second wave of the pandemic started peaking. The Centre, a couple of days ago, decided to fund SII and Bharat Biotech to expand their production capacities.
Seeking funds from the Centre, Poonawalla had said, "We are supplying this vaccine at Rs 150-160. Its production cost is around USD 20 (Rs 1,500). We are providing it at a lower rate as per the direction of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. That does not mean we are not making profits. However, we are not earning enough profits, which could be re-invested to increase production."
Sources said the company could supply the vaccine at such low rates because some international charities were partly funding its production to provide it at affordable rates to low-income countries.