'Journalists be given priority in COVID-19 vaccination': Editors Guild

NEW DELHI: The prices announced by COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers for state governments and private hospitals are “exorbitant” and the Centre should cap costs to make vaccines more affordable, an RSS affiliate said on Sunday referring to the pricing of Covishield and Covaxin shots.

The Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) also demanded that more companies should be allowed to manufacture the vaccines to ensure “availability and affordability”.

Covishield, which is being manufactured by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India, is priced at Rs 150 a dose for the Centre, Rs 400 a dose for state governments, and Rs 600 a dose for private hospitals.

The Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin is priced at Rs 150 a dose for the Centre, Rs 600 a dose for state governments, and Rs 1,200 a dose for private hospitals.

Both anti-COVID vaccines are administered in two doses.

Terming the prices announced by the companies for state governments and private hospitals as “exorbitant”, SJM co-convener Ashwani Mahajan said it will affect the acceleration of the vaccination drive in the country.

He asserted that an “unreasonable” profit is unjustifiable in the time of a pandemic.

“The Centre should ceil the prices of both vaccines to make it affordable for the public and also allow more pharma companies to manufacture them to ensure their availability,” Mahajan said.

SJM, which is the economic wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), also suggested the government give regulatory clearance to the Russian vaccine ‘Sputnik V’ for its local production to start.

Noting that the country needs nearly 195 crore doses to cover at least 70 percent of the population, Mahajan said this cannot be fulfilled by two companies alone.

“There is an urgent need to bring more manufacturers to start production. To facilitate the technology transfer, the government has to take measures to overcome the intellectual property barriers including patent and trade secrets,” Mahajan said.

He also advocated for enhancing the production and price ceiling of other medicines such as Tocilizumab and Remdesivir which are used for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.