New Delhi: There are primarily two COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the country – Covishield and Covaxin. But these are being sold at about 20 different prices. Clearly, there is something amiss.
Zee News Anchor Aman Chopra on Friday (June 4) discussed the differential pricing policy of vaccines in India and what it means for the common man.
Serum Institute of India is selling one dose of Covishield to the central government for Rs 150. Bharat Biotech, the company that manufactures Covaxin, is also charging exactly the same price for a single dose to the central government.
The government is administering this vaccine free of cost to people 45 years of age and above in government hospitals across the country.
The same vaccines are being administered to people between the age group of 18 to 44 years. But their prices are completely different.
Serum Institute is charging Rs 300 for one dose of Covishield to the state governments, while for a dose of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, the state governments have to pay Rs 400.
For private hospitals, the costs are even higher. Private hospitals are getting the Covishield vaccine for Rs 600 and Covaxin for Rs 1200.
For people above 45 years, vaccines are free at government hospitals. However, at private hospitals before May 1, they were being charged Rs 250 per dose.
Most states are providing vaccines free of cost to people aged 18-44 years at government hospitals. However, at private hospitals, people of this age group are being charged up to Rs 1800 for a dose and even higher in some places.
The question is, why are so many different prices for the same vaccine? When the country is one, the disease is one, then why are the prices different?
In a recent survey, it was revealed that 23 percent of the people in India paid more than Rs 1000 for a dose of Covishield vaccine and Rs 1500 to Rs 2,000 for Covaxin. Apart from this, 3 percent of people have spent more than Rs 2000 for a single dose of the vaccine.
It is clear that private hospitals are making a lot of profit from the coronavirus vaccines. In other words, vaccines have become a profit-making commodity for many private hospitals in the country.
In the same survey, 91 percent of the people said that they want the state governments to put a cap on the prices of vaccines at private hospitals.
The state governments can take steps regarding this. Health is a state subject and if the state governments want, they can fix the maximum prices for the vaccines at private hospitals.
The central government can also consider discussing with vaccine companies to keep their prices common, which will benefit the state governments and also reduce the burden of vaccine expenditure on the people.