Bharat Biotech, the maker of first indigenous Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine, Covaxin, on Thursday reduced the selling price of a single vaccine dose to state governments from ₹600 to ₹400, the company said in a statement on Thursday. The announcement comes just a day after the Serum Institute of India, which manufactures the Covishield vaccine developed by Oxford University and British drug firm AstraZeneca, lowered the cost of its Covid-19 vaccine for state governments by 25% to ₹300.
“Bharat Biotech is deeply concerned with the critical pandemic circumstances that India is facing at this time. Recognising the enormous challenges to the public health care system, we have made Covaxin available to state governments at a price of ₹400 per dose,” Bharat Biotech said in a statement.
The Union government had earlier nudged the two manufacturers to revise the cost of vaccines to state governments.
There has, however, not been any change in the cost of the vaccines procured by private hospitals and institutions. Bharat Biotech earlier announced that a single dose would cost hospitals ₹1200 while SII had pegged the cost of its vaccine for private hospitals at ₹600. The two vaccines, which are being used for the national Covid-19 immunisation programme, are sold to the central government for ₹150 per dose.
Bharat Biotech, which co-developed Covaxin with the Indian Council of Medical Research, has a production capacity of about 10 million Covaxin doses each month, and is looking at scaling up its capacity across multiple facilities at Hyderabad, and Bangalore.
With the help of the central government, the company is working towards ramping up the production capacity by at least 100% by May-June, 2021, and with a target set of producing nearly 100 million doses per month by September 2021.
“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. We wish to champion innovation in India and our commitment to public health is absolute,” the company’s statement read.
According to reports, the Union finance ministry also approved a credit line of ₹1500 crore to Bharat Biotech for the purpose of scaling up its production capacity.
The company is exploring manufacturing partnerships with partners in other countries, who have prior expertise with commercial scale manufacture of inactivated viral vaccines under biosafety containment. To further increase capacities, Bharat Biotech has partnered with Indian Immunologicals (IIL) to manufacture the drug substance for Covaxin.
Covaxin was the first make-in-India vaccine to have received emergency use authorization from the national drugs regulator.