Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla on Friday, welcoming the government's decision to open up precautionary COVID-19 doses to the sections of population aged 18 and above, said his company would sell Covishield to hospitals for Rs 600. "The end user will pay as per CoWIN price cap," Poonawalla told CNBC-TV18.
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"This is a huge relief for all those who wanted to have a booster as precautionary dose or for travel," Poonawalla said during an exclusive interview. "We all know that after 6-7 months, the immunity and the antibody levels can go down a little bit and a booster is designed exactly to bring you back up to that good protection level."
Poonawalla added that a gap of nine months between the second dose and the precautionary dose was, perhaps, too long. "I think we should allow citizens to take it six months after the second dose," he said.
Poonawalla said SII has more than 200 million doses in stock as there is hardly any export. "I don’t imagine everyone is going to take a booster. So we still don’t see the need to restart production until those stocks are depleted. So we have a huge inventory and there are hardly any exports, so most of this available for the Indian consumption," he said.
"My team is in touch with all private hospitals We are going to make the terms easy and equitable. Last time around, the hospitals found it very expensive to administer beyond a certain volume because there was a certain cap put (on) them by the government on what they could charge. So what we are going to do is ... give a heavily discounted price to even Rs 600 so that there is enough margin for the distributors and hospitals to also earn some money doing this because it is a private practice as far as they are concerned," Poonawalla said.
Further, Poonawalla said Covovax, the other COVID-19 vaccine being manufactured by his company, will be available on CoWIN In 10-14 days at about Rs 900 plus tax.
Poonawalla also said SII will provide free replacement to hospitals in case a Serum-made vaccine expires. "All new orders will have a free replacement of vaccine in case a vaccine expires," Poonawalla said,"no hospital should ever be in a position to throw away a vaccine. For future orders, Serum will provide Free replacement to hospitals in case a serum vaccine expires."