Strong-arming vaccine production, the government has paid INR 2,500 crores to Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech for 16 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses. Between May and July, Serum Institute will supply 11 crore doses of Covishield, and Bharat Biotech will supply 5 crore doses of Covaxin.
Adar Poonawalla, CEO of SII, had mentioned that increasing the prices of the vaccine will boost production drive. Based on this order, the price is coming down to INR 160 per jab.
It is to be observed that this new order comes hot on the heels of CEO Poonawalla’s statement that SII couldn’t produce COVID-19 vaccines due to lack of orders. Under mounting pressure that the government failed to procure enough supply for people over 18 years, the Centre said Serum delivered 8.7 crore doses against an order for 10 crore doses while Bharat Biotech supplied 88 lakhs of doses against an order of 2 crore doses.
Furthermore, the government announced last month it shall make an advance payment of about INR 3,000 crores to SII and INR 1,500 to Bharat Biotech. Compelled by circumstances, Poonawalla mollified his stance by stating that he and Centre are working closely and are keen on ramping up production. The CEO added that his previous statements were misinterpreted.
Against an order of 26 crore doses, SII has provided 15 crore doses, and it shall provide rest in the second channel to state and private hospitals.