The first 10 crore doses of the Covishield vaccine have been purchased by the government for a special price of Rs 200 per dose, Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla told NDTV on Tuesday, hours after three trucks rolled out with 56.5 lakh doses of India’s first Covid vaccine.
Mr Poonawalla, who called the moment “historic”, said the Serum Institute had offered the government a special rate – “which is slightly below our costs incurred” – because it recognised the need to protect and support the people of the country.
“There was no negotiation. We offered a special price to protect the people. Our objective is to protect healthcare workers… the elderly… and those with medical conditions. After that, when we get permission from the government, we will sell it in the private market,” Mr Poonawalla said.
He also said that the rest of the government’s order – 5.6 crore doses – would be supplied by the February. The SII facility, he said, could produce around seven or eight crore doses per month.
“We decided initially we won’t make a profit. For the rest (the 5.6 crore doses) we will maintain a very reasonable price… it will be a little more than Rs 200, which is our cost price,” he said.
“After that we’ll be selling it at Rs 1,000 per dose in the private market,” Mr Poonawalla added.
Earlier the Serum Institute CEO also said several countries had written to the Serum Institute and the Prime Minister’s Office, looking to purchase vaccines from India for their citizens. However, he stressed that SII’s first priority was to the Indian people and the government.
“We have contracts with many countries – Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Bangladesh and those in Africa. Countries are looking to India because we have large production facilities and smaller companies around the world cannot as yet produce the required number of doses,” he told reporters.
India has placed no restrictions on exports so far but has yet to announce clearance, despite pressure from Brazil which has sought two million doses of Covishield.
The 56.5 lakh doses that were dispatched by SII this morning have been distributed to 13 cities, including national capital Delhi, Guwahati, Chennai, Bengaluru, Lucknow, Kolkata and Patna.
India begins the first phase of a mass vaccination – claimed as the largest in the world – on Saturday, with around 30 crore people, including three crore frontline workers, to be inoculated.
With input from ANI