After days of hectic negotiations, discussions on pricing and much back and forth, India has finally inked two vaccine deals. Bharat Biotech International Limited signed a deal with the central government on January 11 to supply 55 lakh doses of its inactivated vaccine called Covaxin. The vaccine acts against the SARS-CoV2 virus that causes Covid-19. The vaccine got approval for emergency use while under the clinical trial mode. The Serum Institute of India (SII), meanwhile, has inked a bigger deal, News18 has learnt from highly placed sources.
SII to supply 4.5 cr doses, Bharat Biotech 38.5 lakh
SII will supply a total of 4.5 crore doses of the Covishield vaccine, of which 1.10 crore doses will be in the first phase.
Bharat Biotech, which has collaborated with the Indian council of Medical Research (ICMR) to develop the vaccine, will, provide 55 lakh doses of the vaccine over the next few months.
Of these, the Hyderabad-based company will provide 38.5 lakh doses in stage 1, and will give 16.5 lakh doses to the government in stage 2. The supply of doses for the second stage will be free of cost, sources told News18.
At a later stage, Bharat Biotech will provide an additional 45 lakh doses.
Both SII and Bharat Biotech have been asked to give some doses free of cost. However, at the time of filing this report, it was unclear if SII has reached an agreement with the government on its supply of free doses.
How much do the vaccines cost?
Each dose of Covishield will cost the government Rs 220, inclusive of taxes. Each dose of Covaxin will cost Rs 309.5, inclusive of taxes. Without the taxes it will cost Rs 295. For SII, each vial consists of 10 doses, for Covaxin, a vial will have a single dose.
A company source who did not wish to be named told News18 that the cost of Covaxin was higher because it’s a single dose vial and an inactivated vaccine.
HLL, a PSU, Will Procure Vaccines from SII, Bharat Biotech
News18 has learnt that the HLL Lifecare Limited, a PSU, will be the procurement agency for the Covid-19 vaccines from SII and Bharat Biotech.
The company has already issued the supply order on behalf of the Union Health Ministry in the name of Prakash Kumar Singh, additional director, Government and Regulatory Affairs at Serum Institute of India. The letter of commitment has been accessed by News18.
HLL says on its website that it is “aimed at realizing the government’s family planning programme, HLL Lifecare Limited started as a manufacturer of natural rubber latex condoms." HLL Lifecare has developed contraceptives marketed as Saheli — the world’s first and only oral non steroidal contraceptive pill. It was set up by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in 1966.
PM Cares Fund will pay for vaccines of 3 crore people
On Monday, Prime Minister Modi said that the state governments will not have to pay for the first round of COVID-19 vaccines as the Central government will bear the cost of around 3 crore people. News18 is privy to documents that reveal that the funding will come from the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM Cares Fund) that was created in March 2020 following the Covid-19 pandemic in India.