Vaccines bought first using PM CARES funds cost Centre more -Priscilla Jebaraj and Jacob Koshy

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published Published on May 7, 2021   modified Modified on May 9, 2021

-The Hindu

Current price negotiated through bulk orders may not be replicable: Finance Secy

The first lot of vaccines were procured by the Centre using PM CARES funds at a higher rate than the subsequent rounds paid for by budgetary allocations, The Hindu has learnt from the response to a Right to Information request by a transparency activist.

The Health Ministry response said that the initial 5.6 crore doses of Covishield were bought at a pre-tax price of 200 and one crore dose of Covaxin at 295, but Finance Secretary T.V. Somanathan said both vaccines were, in fact, bought at around 200 only.

This is higher than the current 150 rate at which both vaccines are now sold to the Centre. Dr. Somanathan told The Hindu that bulk orders, advance payments and a lower demand situation had helped in negotiating for the lower rate, “which may not be replicable” for future orders by States or others.

From January 16 to May 7, India has administered a little over 16.5 crore vaccine doses.

At a time of surging demand due to the second wave of COVID-19 infection, vaccine manufacturers have now slapped price tags ranging from 300 to 1,200 per dose for their sales to State governments and private players.

The difference in cost in the vaccines paid for by budgetary allocations and by PM CARES, which the Centre says is a non-governmental fund, came to light in the Health Ministry’s May 2 response to an RTI query filed by Commodore Lokesh Batra (Retd). It said that initially the Government of India through PM CARES funds procured 5.6 crore doses of Covishield from Serum Institute of India at the unit cost of 200 (plus 5% GST of 10) and one crore doses of Covaxin from Bharat Biotech at 295 (plus tax of 14.75). This round of vaccines was initially aimed at frontline and healthcare workers, but offtake was relatively poor.

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The Hindu, 7 May, 2021,

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