In August 2020, when India was slowly and steadily opening up, it was still witnessing the surge in Covid-19 cases. The only hope that time around as it is today was the vaccine. India had two vaccine candidates then, as it has today, barring Sputnik V. First was Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine being manufactured at Serum Institute of India. and secondly, Bharat Biotech’s covaxin developed in collaboration with the ICMR. The big question was will these vaccines be affordable? or the high prices will put a hole in the common man’s pocket who is already suffering from the economic fallout of the pandemic and the lockdown.
On the 4th of August, Dr Krishna Ella, CMD of Bharat Biotech, had made a very bold statement on the vaccine pricing. Which was also reported widely. Dr Ella was speaking at a conference on Covid-19. When he picked up a water bottle in front of him and confidently said “This water bottle costs five times more than our vaccine”. Essentially what he meant was the Covid vaccine will cost less than bottled water for beneficiaries. It meant that COVAXIN will be supplied at a price well below Rs. 100. The claim was very significant given that most of India’s population falls in the low-to-middle income category.
Cut to 2021. Today Covaxin costs Rs 1,410, which is the highest ever for any vaccine in India for the Pvt market. Let’s talk about Why is Covaxin the Costliest vaccine in the market right now and the questions surrounding it.
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