Govt inks deal for 11 million Covishield doses with Serum Institute

Vials of AstraZeneca's Covishield before being packaged.

The Indian government has sent the much-delayed purchase order for 11 million Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine doses to Serum Institute of India (SII), according to industry sources speaking on condition of anonymity. With that, the movement of vaccine shipments is likely to begin either by late Monday evening or early Tuesday morning to different states.

A few million doses are likely to be shipped in one go from SII’s facility in Pune (Maharashtra).

SII is the local manufacturer of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine that has been locally named Covishield. The cost of the vaccine to the government is Rs200 per dose for the first 100 million doses. The deal is for procuring 11 million doses that are expected to cover the first phase of the vaccination drive to inoculate 10 million healthcare workers across the country.

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The government is keeping a margin of about 10% for wastage.

The central government will bear the cost of vaccination for the initial 30 million individuals (health care and frontline workers). The state governments will not have to shell out money for this group. The Union finance ministry has already approved Rs480 crore for operational cost which is over and above the cost of the Covid-19 vaccine that central government is paying for.

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Adar Poonawalla, chief executive officer, SII, had earlier said that the company had offered the Indian government a special price of Rs200 for the first 100 million doses of Covishield, less than the $3 it had quoted earlier.

In the private market, SII is likely to sell for a Rs1,000 per dose as MRP. The export price is expected to be between $3-5 depending on the different countries the company signs deals with.

According to government sources, India is rolling out the world’s largest Covid-19 vaccination drive across the country on January 16.

Close to 300 million high-risk people are on the government’s priority list; they will be vaccinated in the next seven-eight months.