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How much will Covishield vaccine cost? Here's what Serum's Poonawalla says

Covishield granted approval on Sunday; SII now has 50 million doses available

adar-poonawalla Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla | File

The Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla said the company plans to sell the Covishield vaccine commercially at Rs 1,000 per dose if the government allows sale in retail. He said the first 100 million doses of the vaccine were being sold to the Indian government at a “special price” of Rs 200 ($2.74) per dose, after which prices would be higher. 

"But let me just say—whatever we give to the government, they are going to provide it free to the people of India and when we subsequently sell it in the private market, the MRP is going to be Rs 1,000 per shot," he told NDTV. The vaccine needs a booster dose, so the total cost will be Rs 2,000. He said vaccines could be delivered to Indian states where they were needed within seven to 10 days of the company finalising a deal with the Central government. 

The Serum Institute, which had started manufacturing the vaccine developed by the Oxford University and pharma major AstraZeneca, now has 50 million doses available. "We are expecting all formalities to be completed in the next 7 to 10 days and a very quick rollout after that and we're hoping to reach 70-80 million doses of actual supply in the next one month—or maybe a month and a half at the most," the Serum Institute chief said.

By March, the company said it could double its monthly output, but the vaccine's availability in the private market will depend on the government easing its restrictions.  

On Sunday, the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) granted the approval for Covishield and indigenously developed Covaxin of Bharat Biotech. 

Pune-based SII's shot is a Recombinant Chimpanzee Adenovirus vector vaccine (Covishield), encoding the SARS-CoV-2 Spike (S) glycoprotein with technology transfer from AstraZeneca/Oxford University.

"The firm submitted safety, immunogenicity and efficacy data generated on 23,745 participants aged 18 years or older from overseas clinical studies. The overall vaccine efficacy was found to be 70.42 per cent," Somani said.

Further, SII was granted permission to conduct Phase-2/3 clinical trials on 1,600 participants within the country, he said.

SII had applied to the DCGI seeking nod for its vaccine on December 6.

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