The Serum Institute of India's Covishield vaccine, which has got approval from the country's drug regulator, will be commercially available at Rs 1,000 per dose if the government allows sale in retail, company chief Adar Poonawalla has said. For the government, "We are giving it in a very special price of Rs 200 for the first hundred million doses. Then there will be tendering and then different prices will be available," Mr Poonawalla told NDTV.
"But let me just say -- whatever we give to the government, they are going to provide it free to the people of India and when we subsequently sell it in the private market, the MRP is going to be Rs 1,000 per shot," he said. The vaccine needs a booster dose, so the total cost will be Rs 2,000..
The Serum Institute, which had started manufacturing the vaccine developed by the Oxford University and pharma major AstraZeneca long ahead of the results of clinical trials at a huge risk, now has 50 million doses available.
"We are expecting all formalities to be completed in the next 7 to 10 days and a very quick rollout after that and we're hoping to reach 70-80 million doses of actual supply in the next one month - or maybe a month and a half at the most," the Serum Institute chief said.
By March, the company said it could double its monthly output, but the vaccine's availability in the private market will depend on the government easing its restrictions.
"We'll have to go by their (the government's) guidance and wisdom because they have said that we cannot export the vaccine or give it to the private market. These have been our discussions at the movement and I respect that because they want to give it to the vulnerable people," Mr Poonawalla told NDTV.
This, he said, also means that "any common citizen today who wants to buy it or get access to it or a corporate who wants to vaccinate their entire workforce to bring them back safely to work can't do so until the government has got enough doses to vaccinate the vulnerable, healthcare workers, the elderly, etc".
The government has made a detailed list prioritizing the recipients of the vaccine, which is topped by the frontline warriors against coronavirus - the healthcare workers, the police and others. The people vulnerable to the virus - including the elderly and those who suffer from co-morbidities like diabetes, heart and kidney diseases - are also on the list.
The government is aiming to create a critical mass of people who are vaccinated against the virus to work towards herd immunity. Dry runs have already been held for vaccination to get an idea of the glitches in the system. The date of the vaccine rollout is yet to be announced.