Central government has defended the differential pricing pattern adopted by vaccine companies Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech for their Covid-19 vaccines Covishied and Covaxin, respectively, for supply to the Centre, state government and private hospitals.
In an affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court on May 9, the government said the difference in the prices fixed for Central government, state governments and private market are because of the volumes sought by them.
"It is pertinent to note that the Central Government by nature of its large vaccination programme, places large purchase orders for vaccines as opposed to the State Governments and/or Private Hospitals and therefore, this reality has some reflection in the prices negotiated," the affidavit said.
The government, however claimed that due to consultations and persuasion it carried out with vaccine manufacturers, both of them have decided to keep their respective Covid-19 vaccine prices uniform for all state governments (irrespective of the population, and hence market size of the state).
It also informed the Supreme Court that the difference in prices will not have any impact on the ultimate beneficiary - the eligible person getting the vaccine - since all state governments have declared their decision to administer vaccine to their residents free of cost.
"Thus, while it is ensured that the two vaccine manufacturers, are not unduly enriched from out of public money, the citizens are not supposed to make any payment for getting both dose of the vaccine," the affidavit said.
The government pointed out that both manufacturers have taken financial risk in developing and manufacturing the vaccines. Hence, it wanted the companies to be allowed to take decisions on pricing through negotiations in a transparent consultative process with statutory provisions as a last resort.
Both the companies have been supplying their vaccines to the Centre for Rs 150 per dose. However, for states, Serum and Bharat are charging Rs 300 and Rs 400, respectively, for a single dose of their vaccines. For the private hospital market, Serum is selling a dose for Rs 600. Bharat Biotech has priced it at Rs 1200.