As India gears up for a mass vaccination drive against coronavirus, US-based Pfizer Inc has given a statement about mRNA vaccine's pricing in order to make its entry to the market. Pfizer said that its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, BNT162b2 will be priced in such a way that can help the Indian government ensure that "there is little to no out-of-pocket costs" for people whenever the immunisation kicks off.
"We remain committed to engaging with the Government of India and explore opportunities to make this vaccine available for use in the country," Pizer said in a report in Livemint.
In the US, the company has priced the vaccine at $19.5 (Rs 1,440) per dose.
Pfizer's statement has come after several reports have surfaced which indicated that the government wouldn't be procuring the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine because of its high cost and the extreme cold chain requirement of -70 degree Celsius.
On storage, Pfizer has assured that it will be arranging its "specially-designed, temperature-controlled thermal shippers, in which doses will arrive, can be used as temporary storage units".
According to the US-based pharmaceutical giant, the shipper will maintain the storage condition of -70 degrees Celsius (+/-) 10 degrees Celsius for 10 days unopened which will allow for transportation globally to ensure all patients have access. At hospitals, the vaccine can be stored for five days at refrigerated 2-8 degrees Celsius conditions.
Meanwhile, the government is counting on other vaccine makers whose prices and storage are favourable to the Indian environment. Primarily, the expectation is high for Serum Institute of India, Bharat Biotech, Zydus Cadila, and Russia's Sputnik V.
The cost of the Pfizer vaccine is much more expensive compared to $3 or Rs 220.68 dose for Covishield, a vaccine developed by Serum Institute, in collaboration with AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford. In fact, Russia's Sputnik V is also cheaper than Pfizer at $10 (Rs 735) per dose. And, it is assumed that indigenous vaccine, developed by Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadila will be in the range of $3-6 per dose.
Meanwhile, the country's apex drug regulator is examining the application of Bharat Biotech, and Serum Institute seeking emergency use authorisation for their COVID-19 vaccines. However, Pfizer sought more time from an independent subject expert committee tasked with vetting the proposals.
The expert committee of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) has sought additional safety and efficacy data for COVID-19 vaccine candidates of Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech.