Logistics will be a key metric for the government to consider, along with price, while taking a decision on COVID-19 vaccine procurement, shared Finance Ministry officials.
Without compromising on the efficacy of the vaccine, the government is looking to bank on domestic manufacturers considering their pricing and ability to meet the logistic challenge. At present, at least six domestic companies are working to develop or manufacture a Covid vaccine.
“Funding will not be a constraint. We will fund this through allocation to be made in the Budget for financial year 2021-22,” an official said, requesting anonymity.
As per sources, the government is considering providing vaccine doses to at least 30-40 crore people during the first six months of 2021, which means a requirement of up to 80 crore doses.
Domestic companies: A welcome choice for logistics
Domestic companies working to develop or manufacture the vaccine include the Serum Institute of India (SII), Bharat Biotech, Zydus Cadilla, Biological E. Ltd, Hetero Biopharma and Dr Reddy’s Laboratories.
Domestic manufacturers/developers will be a welcome choice for the country considering the logistics that will be involved, apart from costs.
The vaccine may require storage between +2 and +8 °C; in comparison to this, vaccines from abroad may need to be stored at -20 to -70 °C.
Though pricing has not been finalised, based on GAVI (formerly the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation) baseline and after including logistic and transportation costs, some of these companies could sell a dose at $3-3.5 (INR 220-250) to the government.
However, if Pfizer’s deal with the US government is considered as a baseline at the same time, the price of two doses could shoot up to $40 (around INR 2,900), the official said.
Costs that it will incur
While the government has not put a number on the funding requirement for the vaccination drive, it is roughly between INR 50,000 crore and INR 80,000 crore, as per the figures that have been going around. The final figure will be confirmed through budget allocation to the Department of Health and Family Welfare for FY 2021-22.
While replying to the question on whether everyone will get a free vaccine shot under the Universal Immunisation Programme (under which immunisation is provided free against 12 diseases), the official said that no formal decision has been taken.
Source: The HinduBL