Despite Approval, India Awaits COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Due to Delay Over Pricing
As vaccinations begin in the United States and China, India still awaits to roll out the vaccine even after emergency use approval. In other nations, while the pricing deal was signed much before New Delhi and Serum Institute of India Ltd. — the world’s biggest vaccine maker by volume and AstraZeneca Plc’s local partner — have still not struck any agreement. Despite months of closed doors meetings, they are yet to sign a formal agreement.
Serum’s Chief Executive Officer Adar Poonawalla, on Sunday, said the Indian officials have “orally” agreed to purchase 100 million doses at a “special price” of 200 rupees ($2.74) a shot, which is below $4 to $5 price given to the U.K. government. Serum wants to sell vaccines privately to individuals as well as companies at Rs 1,000. According to Poonawalla, India needs to secure enough vaccines for the most-needy.
“If we were to sell it however we wanted, it does make logical sense that some of the most vulnerable people might miss out,” he said.
Talking about the 70 million doses, the CEO of Serum said, “We’ve already packed it, we just need to send it out in trucks across states and have it delivered”.
The Indian government, which has reportedly set aside approx. 500 billion rupees for vaccination efforts, is seeking to put pressure on the Serum Institute to lower its prices. This was seen with its controversial decision to give restricted approval to Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin that is still recruiting volunteers for the final testing, says the Bloomberg report.
In August, the company’s Chairman Krishna Ella said that their vaccine would be cheaper than bottled water, indicating cost less than half of Serum’s price.
Across the world, AstraZeneca has not entered into agreements with any private companies or individuals yet and is only supplying to the governments. On the other hand, Serum plans to sell the shot at a five-times higher rate, according to the pricing plan shared by Poonawalla.
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