COVID-19: Government asks SII, Bharat Biotech to cut vaccine prices
The central government has asked the Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech to reduce the prices of their COVID-19 vaccines, PTI reported on Monday. The issue of vaccine pricing was discussed at a meeting chaired by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, amid criticism from several states which accused these companies of profiteering during a major health crisis. Here are more details on this.
Centre recently allowed direct sale of vaccines to states
The prices by the two companies were declared after the Centre recently allowed vaccine makers to sell 50% of their produce directly to state governments and private players from May 1, while the rest will be sold to the Centre. Notably, the central government will continue to inoculate health workers, frontline workers, and those aged above 45 years at its facilities for free.
What are the prices set by these companies?
The Pune-based Serum Institute, the world's largest vaccine maker in terms of volume, has set a price of Rs. 400 per dose for state governments and Rs. 600 per dose for private hospitals. Bharat Biotech has announced a price of Rs. 600 per dose for state governments and Rs. 1,200 per dose for private hospitals. The price for Centre is Rs. 150 per dose.
Several states, including Delhi, objected to the prices
Several states have objected to the differential pricing of coronavirus vaccines, with national capital Delhi's Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal saying that it is not the time for profiteering. He has urged manufacturers to bring down the price to Rs. 150 per dose. Meanwhile, the Congress party termed the government's new vaccine policy as "discriminatory and insensitive."
New prices applicable to those aged 18-44
The new vaccine prices would be applicable to those aged between 18 and 44 years as India's vaccination drive opens to all adults from May 1. "Vaccination drive to continue as before, providing free vaccination for essential and priority populations as defined earlier i.e HCWs, FLWs and population above 45 years," the government had said in a statement on April 19.
The COVID-19 situation in India
India is currently grappling with an unprecedented second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, reporting lakhs of new infections and hundreds of related deaths daily amid an overburdened health infrastructure. In the last 24 hours, the country reported 3.23 lakh new cases and 2,771 fatalities. This is the sixth consecutive day that India logged more than three lakh cases.