Serum Institute cuts vaccine price for states to Rs 300/dose

Bharat Biotech which priced its Covaxin shots at ₹600 for states and ₹1,200 for private hospitals is yet to announce the price cut

New Delhi: Serum Institute of India's CEO Adar Poonawalla tweeted on Wednesday that Covishield vaccine will cost states ₹300 instead of ₹400 and called it a "philanthropic gesture".

"As a philanthropic gesture on behalf of Serum Institute of India, I hereby reduce the price to the states from Rs 400 to Rs 300 per dose, effective immediately; this will save thousands of crores of state funds going forward. This will enable more vaccinations and save countless lives," Mr Poonawalla wrote in his tweet. SII said it would continue to provide vaccines to the Centre at ₹150 a shot.

Bharat Biotech that makes Covaxin and had priced each dose of its vaccine at ₹600 for states and ₹1,200 for private hospitals, is yet to announce the price cut.

The Centre on Wednesday opened vaccine registration for those in the age group of 18-44 years. But as soon as registration opened at 4 pm, there was a surge in the number of people trying to register and the CoWin system crashed several times. There were 383 million API hits within the first three hours of registration and eventually only 8 million people could manage to book slots. The government said more slots will be made available soon.

Union health ministry officials said initially the API hits were as high as 2.7 million per minute. Vaccination for the 18 plus population begins from May 1.

In the last 24 hours India on Wednesday registered close to 3.61 lakh fresh cases and 3293 deaths amid concerns of testing going down in several places due to lack of reagents and testing kits.

The phase 3 of vaccination will begin amid concerns of vaccine shortage as states like Maharashtra are short of vaccines and may not begin the vaccination drive for the 18-45 age group on Saturday.

Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday formally announced free vaccination for all in the age group of 18 to 44 years in government hospitals, but there is still uncertainty over when the inoculation drive for this age group will start. Greater Mumbai Municipal Corporation announced that due to insufficient vaccine stock, 40 private vaccination centres will be closed on April 29, while the remaining 33 private centres will give only the second dose. Some cities in Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have also reported a shortage of vaccines.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, sanctioned the procurement of one lakh portable oxygen concentrators from the PMCares Fund as the government also intensified efforts to improve Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) supply for Covid management. As per officials, PM has instructed that these oxygen concentrators should be procured at the earliest and provided in states with high case burden.

In addition to the earlier sanctioned 713 Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) plants under PMCares Fund, 500 new PSA oxygen plants have been sanctioned. The PSA plants will augment the supply of Liquid Medical Oxygen at hospitals in district headquarters and Tier 2 cities. These 500 PSA plants will be established with transfer of the indigenous technology developed by DRDO and CSIR to the domestic manufacturers.

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