Bharat Biotech reduces price of Covaxin for states to Rs 400 per dose
Taking cue from Serum Insistute of India, Hyderbad-based Bharat Biotech on Thursday reduced price of its coronavirus vaccine, Covaxin, for states to Rs 400 per dose from Rs 600.
This follows a widespread criticism of its pricing policy as it sold Covaxin to the central government at Rs 150 per dose.
“Recognising the enormous challenges in the public healthcare system, we have made Covaxin available to state governments at a price of 400/ dose”, Bharat Biotech said in its announcement. The company is deeply concerned with the critical pandemic circumstances that India is facing at this time, it added.
Serum Institute of India (SII) — the maker of the most used COVID-19 vaccine in the country — on Wednesday announced a cut in price of the jab it plans to sell to states to Rs 300 per dose from the earlier Rs 400.
This follows widespread criticism of its pricing policy as it has sold the initial doses of Covishield to the central government at Rs 150 per dose. SII’s CEO Adar Poonawalla took to Twitter to announce the “philanthropic” gesture. “As a philanthropic gesture on behalf of @SerumInstIndia, I hereby reduce the price to the states from Rs 400 to Rs 300 per dose, effective immediately; this will save thousands of crores of state funds going forward. This will enable more vaccinations and save countless lives,” he said.
India has announced expansion of its COVID-19 vaccination drive by allowing its large 18-plus population to get inoculated from May 1.
Covaxin, India’s home-grown COVID-19 vaccine, has been found to neutralise the 617 variant of the deadly virus, according to America’s top pandemic expert Dr Anthony Fauci.
Fauci, also the White House chief medical adviser, was speaking to reporters during a conference call on Tuesday.
“This is something where we’re still gaining data on a daily basis. But the most recent data, was looking at convalescent Sera of COVID-19 cases and people who received the vaccine used in India, the Covaxin. It was found to neutralise the 617 variants,” the 80-year-old physician-scientist and immunologist said.
“So, despite the real difficulty that we’re seeing in India, vaccination could be a very, very important antidote against this,” Fauci, the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the chief medical advisor to the president, added.
The New York Times on Tuesday said Covaxin works by teaching the immune system to make antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. The antibodies attach to viral proteins, such as the so-called spike proteins that stud its surface.
Developed by Bharat Biotech in partnership with National Institute of Virology and the Indian Council of Medical Research, Covaxin was approved for emergency use on January 3. Trial results later showed the vaccine has an efficacy of 78 per cent.