‘No option to choose from 2 vaccines, doses to be given 28 days apart’
New Delhi, Jan 12: The government has committed to buy from the Serum Institute further 4.5 crore doses of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine, Covishield, at a price of Rs 200 per shot plus applicable taxes by April, in addition to a firm order given to the company for 1.1 crore doses. Flights have started ferrying the vaccines to different cities from Pune from Tuesday morning.
According to the purchase order placed on Monday, each dose of the vaccine has been priced at Rs 200 and with GST of Rs 10, it would cost Rs 210. The HLL Lifecare Limited, a public sector undertaking, issued the supply orders on behalf of the Union Health Ministry on Monday.
The first order of 1.1 crore doses of Covishield will be worth Rs 231 crore, while the total amount, including the commitment for 4.5 crore doses will amount to an estimated Rs 1,176 crore at current rates, according to sources. “It is further informed that there is a commitment to purchase further 450 lakh doses from Serum Institute of India Pvt Limited, a manufacturer (through subsidiary Serum Institute of Life Sciences Pvt Limited) at Rs 200 per dose plus GST if applicable by April 2021,” the letter of comfort signed by Prakash Kumar Singh, Additional Director, Government and Regulatory Affairs at Serum Institute of India (SII) and R S Manku, Vice President (Govt Business) stated.
“This is in continuation to the supply order dated January 11 for supply of 1.1 crore doses of Covishield vaccine as approved by DCGI vide permission dated January 3 for restricted use in emergency situation,” it stated. The government on Monday also placed an order to Bharat Biotech for 55 lakh doses of indigenously developed Covaxin costing Rs 162 crore. India had recently approved two vaccines, Oxford’s Covishield manufactured by SII in the country and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, for restricted emergency use.
The country will launch its COVID-19 vaccination drive from January 16 in what Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called the world’s largest inoculation programme with priority to be given to nearly three crore healthcare and frontline workers. According to the COVID-19 Vaccine Operational Guidelines, the shots will be offered first to an estimated one crore healthcare workers, and around two crore frontline workers, and then to persons above 50 years of age, followed by persons younger than 50 years of age with associated comorbidities based on evolving pandemic situation.
Meanwhile, the healthcare and frontline workers who will be inoculated in the first phase of the vaccination drive against Covid-19 starting Saturday will have no option to choose from the two vaccines that have been given emergency use approval, the union health ministry said on Tuesday.
The government has approved two vaccines – Covishield, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India, and Covaxin, which has been developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech together with the Indian Council of Medical Research.
In a joint press conference by the health ministry, ICMR and the Niti Aayog, officials also clarified that the two doses of the vaccine will be administered 28 days apart, and the vaccine is expected to offer protection 14 days after the second dose is given.
The recipients of the vaccine will get a message one day before they are to be administered the vaccine. Officials said that 1 crore registrations have already been completed for the vaccination drive on CO-Win app, the IT platform that has emerged as the backbone of the massive programme set to be rolled out across the country on January 16.
The two companies whose vaccines have been approved have already started dispatching the shots to various cities. Airlines were due to deliver 56.5 lakh doses on Tuesday to various cities, Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Twitter.