The central government is likely to renegotiate the price at which it currently procures Covishield and Covaxin from their manufacturers, according to sources aware of the developments.
At present, a single dose of both vaccines costs the Centre Rs 150. The government buys vaccines from Serum Institute of India (SII) — the maker of Covishield — and Bharat Biotech — the maker of Covaxin — at this price for its free vaccination drive for priority groups.
From June 21, the free drive will cover all adults across states, thus making it necessary for the Centre to buy more doses (75% of what is made in India) for its campaign.
A recent procurement by the Centre of 44 crore Covishield (25 crore) and Covaxin (19 crore) doses has been done at the current price of Rs 150 a dose.
But sources have indicated to CNN-News18 that the government could be looking at a revised procurement price and might engage in renegotiations with SII and Bharat Biotech.
Under the existing vaccination policy that took effect on May 1, the Centre bought 50% of vaccines produced in India. These were used for a centrally sponsored free campaign aimed only at the 45-plus group, and healthcare and frontline workers. Vaccine-makers could sell 50% of what they produced directly to states (25%) and private players (25%).
For Covaxin, states had to pay Rs 400 a dose. The corresponding figure for Covishield was 300 per dose. But several states, for their part, had announced free vaccination for their citizens to relieve them of the price burden.
Apart from its 50%, the Centre will also procure the 25% from the state quota and distribute the doses to states based on certain parameters as part of the new policy. In other words, the government of India will procure 75% of the doses made in the country to run a free campaign for all adults. Private players, on the other hand, can still directly procure up to 25% of the doses from the manufacturers and charge beneficiaries for the shots.
The Centre has also capped the prices of vaccines at private hospitals. After a service charge of Rs 150 and a 5% GST, the maximum price for Covishield will be Rs 780. For Covaxin, it will be Rs 1,410 and for Sputnik V Rs 1,145.