Bharat Biotech justifies high price of Covaxin for private hospitals, says govt procurement cost unsustainable

Amid questions being raised over the high market cost of Covid-19 vaccine Covaxin, its manufacturer Bharat Biotech on Tuesday defended the pricing. The pharmaceutical firm said it is supplying Covaxin to the Government of India for the national immunisation programme at a cost of Rs 150 per dose, which is not sustainable. Hence, the vaccine has been priced higher for the private market in order to offset the manufacturing and development costs.

“The supply price of Covaxin to the Government of India at Rs 150 per dose is a non-competitive price and clearly not sustainable in the long run. Hence, a higher price in private markets is required to offset part of the costs,” Bharat Biotech said in a statement, as per ANI.

It may be noted that Covaxin has been priced at Rs 1,200 per dose for private hospital procurement. The Central government has put a cap of a maximum price of Rs 1,410 on Covaxin including hospital administering charges and GST.

On the other hand, two other vaccines available in the country right now have been priced at Rs 780 (Covishield) and Rs 1,145 (Sputnik V) per dose including GST and hospital administration charges.

It may be noted that Covaxin, developed indigenously by Bharat Biotech, is the third-highest priced COVID-19 vaccine in the world after those developed by China’s Sinopharm and Pfizer, as per an analysis.

Dr Krishna Ella, the managing director of the Hyderabad-based vaccine manufacturer, had told the media last August that a single dose of Covaxin would cost less than a bottle of packaged drinking water. The average cost of a one-litre water bottle is Rs 20.

According to experts, Covaxin is based on the inactivated whole virus platform and its technology involves higher costs. However, they too have said the price of Rs 1,410 is very high for this platform as well.


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