- At a meeting chaired by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, the topic of vaccine pricing was addressed.
- The two companies are now have expected to come up with new prices for their vaccines.
- Many opposition leaders had alleged profiteering during the pandemic.
Following criticism from many states accusing the companies of profiteering from the crisis, the central government asked Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech to lower the price of their Covid-19 vaccines on Monday.
At a meeting chaired by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, the issue of vaccine pricing was addressed. Both firms are expected to update their vaccine prices.
Covaxin is priced at Rs 600 per dose for state governments and Rs 1,200 per dose for private hospitals, according to Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech.
The Serum Institute of India (SII), based in Pune, is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by volume, and Covishield has been set at a price of Rs 400 per dose for state governments and Rs 600 per dose for private hospitals.
The central government has access to both vaccines at a cost of Rs 150 per dose.
In the third phase of the mass inoculation programme, the Centre has relaxed its vaccine strategy, with anyone over the age of 18 are now eligible for a shot from May 1.
Manufacturers will supply 50% of their monthly Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL)-released doses to the Central government under the new vaccine regime, leaving the remaining 50% to state governments and the open market.
The government has stated that manufacturers must declare the price in advance for the 50% supply that will be available to state governments and on the open market.
Arvind Kejriwal, the Delhi Chief Minister, had objected to the differential pricing model, saying that now is not the time for profiteering and urged manufacturers to reduce the price to Rs 150 per dose.
The Congress called the new policy “discriminatory and insensitive,” accusing the government for allowing vaccine manufacturers of profiting to the tune of Rs 1.11 lakh crore.
SII defended its 1.5 times increase in Covishield pricing, claiming that the previous price was dependent on advance financing, and that the company now has to invest in scaling up and expanding capacity to manufacture more shots.
Bharat Biotech Chairman and Managing Director Krishna M Ella had said when announcing the price of Covaxin that cost recovery is essential for innovation.