India’s COVID-19 vaccine prices cut as booster program is extended

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Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech have cut the prices of their COVID-19 vaccines as the country plans to offer booster doses to all adults from Sunday.

The cost of SII’s Covishield will drop to 225 rupees ($2.96) a dose from 600 rupees for private hospitals, chief executive Adar Poonawalla said in a Tweet on Saturday.

“After discussion with the central government, SII has decided to revise the price of Covishield vaccine for private hospitals,” he said.

Infections in India have fallen to their lowest in nearly two-years, with 1,150 new cases reported in the past 24 hours, with 83 deaths. The death toll in the country since the pandemic started is 521,656.

SII, the world’s biggest vaccine maker, produces AstraZeneca’s (AZN.L) COVID-19 vaccine under the brand name Covishield.

Of the 1.85 billion vaccine doses India has supplied to its population of 1.35 billion, 82% have been Covishield.

Bharat Biotech cut the price of its Covaxin vaccine to 225 rupees per dose from 1,200 rupees, the company’s joint managing director Suchitra Ella said in a Tweet.

Those over 18 who received a second dose nine months ago will be eligible for the additional “precaution” dose, the health ministry said on Friday, using the government’s term for boosters.

The booster programme, which started in January, is limited to frontline workers and the elderly and has so far administered 24 million doses.

When the programme is extended on Sunday, those outside the two priority categories will have to pay for the shots at privately run facilities, with no mixing and matching of vaccines allowed.