The vaccination drive for the vaccine against COVID-19 is expected to begin in India in the coming days. The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) Dr VG Somani on Sunday (January 3) approved Serum Institute of India’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin for emergency use against coronavirus. The much-awaited approval by DGCI paved the way for the roll-out of these vaccines in India.
Meanwhile, the Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla on Sunday revealed the prices of Covishield and disclosed that his company has fixed two different prices for the vaccine.
Poonawalla announced that Covishield will be given at Rs 250 to the government and the vaccine will be available in the private market for Rs 1,000. According to Poonawalla, Serum’s Covishield is cheaper than the vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and its transportation is also easy as compared to Pfizer’s vaccine. Poonwalla also said that his company, which is based in Pune, is making 50-60 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine every month.
The SII CEO said that the Indian government wants to vaccinate more than 130 crore people in the country by mid-2021. “We are ready to provide the vaccine for the government. We have sent our proposal and are waiting for the contract to be signed with the government. The vaccine will be made available to the government within 10 days of the contract,” he said.
According to Poonawalla, Serum Institute is yet to receive permission from the government to export the vaccine. “We have bilateral relations with Saudi Arabia and some other countries. We have sought permission from the government in this regard. After getting this approval, we will be able to deliver our medicine to more than 50 countries of the world,” he said.
The DGCI granted the approval to Covishield and Covaxin after a Subject Expert Committee of Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) recommended these two vaccines for emergency use in India. It may be recalled that Covishield was recommended for emergency use on January 1, whereas Covaxin was recommended for restricted use on January 2. On Saturday, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had said the vaccines would be given free of cost to priority groups in the first phase.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has welcomed the DCGI decision and said that approval of two vaccines is a decisive turning point to strengthen a spirited fight.
“DCGI granting approval to vaccines of Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech accelerates the road to a healthier and COVID-free nation. Congratulations India. Congratulations to our hardworking scientists and innovators,” he said.