The Covishield vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) will be priced at Rs 200 a dose after a price agreement was arrived at with the government, sources have said. The first 100 million doses will be priced Rs 200, say SII sources. Eleven million doses will be supplied to the government in the initial tranche.
With the government placing the order this evening, the drug is expected to roll out of SII's Pune facilities at 4.30 am tomorrow.
"The price is fixed in writing,'' said sources in the SII adding that exports of the life-saving vaccine are expected after January 16 as well.
"A few million doses of Covishield will be supplied every week. 11 million doses may be supplied in the initial lot," they added.
The process of administering the vaccine will start on Saturday, the government said last weekend after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's meeting to review vaccine preps. "After a detailed review, it was decided that in view of the forthcoming festivals including Lohri, Makar Sankranti, Pongal, Magh Bihu, the COVID-19 vaccination will start from January 16," said a statement.
The SII vaccine developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca was cleared for emergency use along with Bharat Biotech's indigenous "Covaxin" earlier this month.
Serum chief executive Adar Poonawalla had told NDTV that the vaccine would be priced at about Rs 1,000 rupees per dose when it is eventually available in the private market in India.
The government plans to cover 300 million people in the first part of the programme in which health workers, frontline staff such as police and people over the age of 50 and those with co-morbidities will be vaccinated first.
That will require 600 million doses and Serum, the world's largest manufacturer of vaccines, has stockpiled 50 million doses for immediate distribution.
India has said no restrictions on exports are in place, but has yet to formally announce export clearance despite pressure from Brazil that has sought 2 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine made in India.
The Oxford shot is expected to meet 90% of India's mass immunisation programme needs.