Mumbai's Haffkine Bio-Pharma targets 22.8 crore Covaxin vials a year

NEW DELHI: Bharat Biotech on Thursday announced a cut in the price of its COVID-19 vaccine ‘Covaxin’ it plans to sell to the states to Rs 400 per dose from the earlier Rs 600.

This follows widespread criticism of its pricing policy as it sold Covaxin to the central government at Rs 150 per dose.

The announcement came a day after Serum Institute of India (SII) slashed the price of its COVID-19 vaccine ‘Covishield’ to Rs 300 per dose from the earlier Rs 400 for state governments.

“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.

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“We wish to be transparent in our approach to pricing which was determined by internally funded product development, several operationally-intensive BSL-3 manufacturing facilities (the first of its kind in our country) and clinical trials,” Bharat Biotech said.

According to official sources, the central government on Monday had asked SII and Bharat Biotech to lower the prices of their COVID-19 vaccines amid criticism from various states who accused the companies of profiteering during such a major crisis.

The issue of vaccine pricing was discussed at a meeting chaired by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba.

Many states have objected to the different prices for the vaccines.

“We wish to champion “Innovation in India” and our commitment to public health is absolute!,” Bharat Biotech said.

With the greater part of the organisation’s facilities and resources being diverted to the coronavirus vaccine, “we continue to work towards offering superior COVID-19 vaccines and sincerely wish that this gesture enables our country towards a faster recovery,” it added.

The company had on Saturday said it would provide Covaxin to state governments at Rs 600 and to private hospitals at Rs 1,200 per dosage.

Recovering the cost is essential in the journey of innovation towards other vaccines such as intranasal COVID-19, chikungunya, zika, cholera and others, Bharat Biotech Chairman and MD Krishna M Ella had said at that time.

The government last week waived basic customs duty on import of COVID vaccines, medical grade oxygen and related equipment for three months.

India has announced expansion of its COVID-19 vaccination drive by allowing its large 18-plus population to get inoculated from May 1.

Serum Institute of India (SII) had on Wednesday slashed the price of its COVID-19 vaccine ‘Covishield’ to Rs 300 per dose from the earlier Rs 400 for state governments.