By Shalini Bhardwaj
New Delhi [India], April 12 (ANI): The decision to slash the prices of the precautionary dose of the COVID-19 vaccine Covishield, which is now available for all adults, was taken to make it more affordable, accessible and within reach of the masses, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Serum Institute of India (SII) Adar Poonawalla said on Tuesday.
In an exclusive interview with ANI, Poonawalla said, "After a discussion with government officials, we all concluded that we need to give boosters and make them affordable and accessible to as many people as possible. And for protection and travel purposes, we said let's reduce the price."
Sharing his vision of wanting everyone in the country to be able to receive a booster dose of the vaccine, the CEO of SII said that the price slash will "certainly make it more accessible to every person who wants to take it."
Further, Poonawalla said that originally priced at Rs 800-900, plus the administration charges by the private hospitals, the precaution COVID dose of Covishield would have been heavy for the pockets of the public. "If people have a family of three or four then it becomes expensive so that's why we reduced the price."
"We reduced the price (of vaccine doses at private hospitals) to make it more accessible to every person who wants to take it. We are charging Rs 225 and the hospitals charge an administration fee of another Rs 150 so that is substantially less than Rs 800-900," he added.
Poonawalla further informed that he has requested the Centre to reduce the gap between the second and the third dose of the COVID vaccine to six months from the existing nine.
"The (vaccine inoculation) uptick right now is a bit slow...because we have got this rule that you have to wait for nine months between dose two and three. We have appealed to the govt on how to reduce this further to six months, will propose the six-month gap," he said.
Notably, on April 9, SII announced that it has revised the price of its COVID vaccine Covishield for private hospitals from Rs 600 to Rs 225 per dose.
The precautionary third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for the 18-plus population at private vaccination centres began on April 10.
All those who are more than 18 years of age and have completed nine months after the administration of the second dose, would be eligible for the precaution dose, the Union Ministry of Health said.
This facility would be available in all private vaccination centres. The Centre has also allowed the private COVID-19 vaccination centres to charge up to a maximum of Rs 150 as a service charge for vaccination over and above the cost of the vaccine.
India started administering precaution doses to frontline workers, healthcare workers and those above the age of 60 years with comorbidities on January 10 this year. Later, on March 16, the vaccination drive for precaution dose was extended to all adults above the age of 60 years. (ANI)
Slashed COVID-19 vaccine Covishield's prices to ensure more accessibility, reach, says SII's Adar Poonawalla
ANI | Updated: Apr 12, 2022 19:21 IST
By Shalini Bhardwaj