Mahima Datla, the MD of Biological E -- whose vaccine Corbevax was launched today for 12-to 14-year-olds in the country -- today indicated that the affordability of her vaccine was one of the key goals they worked for. The Corbevax has been made available to the government at a cost of Rs 145 and Rs 10 as taxes -- the lowest in the world. Calling it the "most affordable" vaccine, Ms Datla told NDTV today that the firm "needed to keep affordability at the centre of this".
The vaccine will cost Rs 990 in the market, inclusive of taxes.
"I have been in numerous occasions when the country's, government's or health budget is stressed... so it was our responsibility to make this affordable," she said. The 80 crore doses the government will get from Biolegical E will save the exchequer Rs 1,500 crore, she added.
Taking of the sheer upscale needed to bring down the cost to this level, she said vaccines involve a huge amount of fixed cost.
"The nature of the business is such that you have to invest in facility, trained manpower, power. The majority is fixed cost. So if you are allocating it all to a fewer number of doses, then the cost will obviously go up. We have to think upward of 100 million doses," she added.
Asked how effective the vaccine will be against Omicron, the latest strain to emerge which drove the third wave in, Ms Datla said it was a "difficult question to answer".
"Our head-to-head comparison we did with Covishield during the Delta wave. Omicron became an issue after we completed the clinical trials. It took four to five weeks to come up with a right construct. Our preliminary data suggests that our vaccine behaves in a fashion that confers some cross protection," she added.
Asked how the vaccine would work against Omicron percentagewise, she said it was "hard to determine", since there was no statistical model or "sufficient data".