Uncertainty continues to hover over the Central government’s announcement of opening vaccination for people between 18-45 years from May 1 due to the immediate shortage of COVID-19 vaccines, people in the know told CNBC-TV18 on Tuesday.
However, efforts are on to ramp up vaccine manufacturing. The current capacity of Serum Institute is 6-7 crore doses per month. From July onwards, SII is expected to increase its production capacity to 10 crore per month.
Similarly, the current production capacity of Covaxin by Bharat Biotech is likely to be increased from a crore vaccine doses in April to 6-7 crore vaccine dose per month in July–August. Bharat Biotech is in fact expected to reach nearly 10 crore doses per month by September 2021.
Last week, Adar Poonawalla of Serum Institute of India (SII) told CNBC-TV18 that he hopes to start supplying Covishield vaccine to states and the private sector post-May 15.
Experts say that there is a need for clarity on the supply and pricing of vaccines. Many states have expressed intent to procure vaccines but no purchase orders have been signed by any vaccine manufacturers yet.
Several states including Assam, UP, Arunachal, Punjab, Rajasthan, Delhi, Maharashtra, Punjab, Jharkhand, Karnataka are in talks with vaccine manufacturers for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.
The Central government on Monday asked SII and Bharat Biotech to lower the prices of their vaccines ahead of the third phase of the nationwide vaccination drive from May 1.
The Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech has fixed the price of its COVID-19 vaccine, Covaxin, at Rs 600 per dose for state governments and at Rs 1,200 per dose for private hospitals.
SII has announced a price of Rs 400 per dose for Covishield for state governments and Rs 600 per dose for private hospitals.
Last week, the government had announced that vaccine manufacturers would make an advance declaration of the price for 50 percent supply that would be available to state governments in the open market before May 1.
Based on this price, states, private hospitals, industrial establishments may procure vaccine doses from manufacturers, the government said.