Debate over prices halted launch of Zydus' Covid-19 vaccine on Gandhi Jayanti?

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Even as disagreement over the price of Covid-19 vaccine by Zydus Cadila between the company and the government has delayed its launch in the national vaccination drive, the Centre is insisting on Rs 300 per shot for the vaccine which is to be administered in three doses.

Earlier, the plan was to roll out the ZyCoV D vaccine, the only vaccine approved also for the 12-17 year age group so far, on October 2 on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti.

Sources in the Union government said that in a meeting between government officials and company representatives on Sunday, the firm had quoted a price of Rs 1,900 for the three doses of the vaccine, which is based on plasmid DNA and its three doses are to be given over a 56-day period.

“We are, however, negotiating to procure the vaccine for Rs 900 for the three doses as the government will also need to invest in a needle-free jet injector that has to be used for administering the vaccine,” said a senior official.

The applicator by PharmaJet costs about Rs 30,000 and can be used for administering around 20,000 doses.

Sources added that a few more rounds of negotiations are likely this week before a government procurement price, as well as the price of the vaccine in private hospitals can be fixed.

The government is hoping to procure nearly 1 crore doses of the vaccine this month while till the year-end, the company has committed to supply about 5 crore doses of the vaccine.

In a press briefing last week, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan had said that the vaccine will be priced differently than the jabs being used currently.

“Since this is a three-dose vaccine and comes with a needleless delivery system, it would have a differential pricing than the existing vaccines which are being used in Covid vaccination,” he had said.