Exactly a year ago the world’s most brutal and devastating pandemic was detected in Wuhan Province of China and since then it has caused havoc and misery all over the world. The initial period took us by surprise and uncertainty regarding the virus but after a year we are here to fin a permanent solution to this pandemic and that is through a vaccine for Coronavirus.
Many institutes and organisations in the field of vaccine are researching over the new Covid-19 pandemic. It is estimated that we can see this vaccine by the end of 2020 and by mid of 2021, enough vaccines will be available for the masses.
Moderna, Johnson and Johnson, Oxford-Astrazeneca, Pfizer-Biontech and many other such institutes are close to launching their vaccines while Moderna, a US based institute is leading the charge.
In India, close to 8.91 million people have contacted this coronavirus while 8.34M people have recovered. The cases of Covid-19 Coronavirus have seen decline since last few weeks but in some states the cases have also seen a rise. The second wave and the third wave have been witnesses in many parts of the world and one can say that this pandemic is not going to go on its own unless there comes a permanent solution for the same.
In India, Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer is preparing last trials by vaccines made by Oxford University. Apart from this, Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadila are in their final stage of trials. As mentioned above, the government has issued directions to the states to prepare the roadmap for rollout of vaccines.
It is much possible that we can see vaccines in the market for the masses by the first quarter of 2021 or mostly by mid-2021. Now the issue in hand is about pricing. How much will one or two shot of the vaccine will cost?
Coronavirus Vaccine: The Pricing Challenge
Serum Institute, Moderna and other such companies are mulling over the pricing of the vaccine. While the government has indicated that no matter what the cost of coronavirus vaccine will be, the government will provide it free to the citizens, especially for the majority of poor Indians for free.
Anyways, since we are concerned about the pricing, Moderna has estimated the pricing of two shots of vaccine at around Rs. 4,700-5,500. Vaccines manufactured by Serum Institute namely Novavax will cost around Rs. 240 and one can get at least 100 million doses at this price which is approx. ten crores.
Similarly, Oxford researched, and Serum Institute manufactured vaccine may cost around Rs. 1,000. Pfizer-Biontech researched vaccine can cost around Rs. 2,886 while vaccine manufactured by Johnson & Johnson can cost around Rs. 1,480.
All these prices are tentative, and no final pricing has still been done. Most of them have been published in media. The final pricing can only be decided when the vaccine is ready to be launched for general masses.
Cost of Coronavirus Vaccine: Challenges Ahead
SII chief Adar Poonawala has estimated that one can see vaccines in market after the government’s authorization by end of December and early January. He said that the company has already manufactured 40 million doses of the vaccine and is subject to government approval and Oxford’s approval whose research is in the final stage.
The challenge ahead is concerning regarding pricing. Adar Poonawala also said that the government will have to prepare a budget of Rs. 80,000 crores for rolling out vaccine in the next budget session. Though the government has dismissed the claims made by Mr. Poonawala.
Another challenge lying ahead is the preservation of vaccine which reportedly requires a very cold atmosphere which is up to -75 degree Celsius which is a very tough task to achieve for a country like India. The major cost of vaccine will go in preserving the vaccine and not manufacturing it.
Most of these vaccines that are in their last trial have proved out to be 90-95% effective and thus one can say that time is not much far when we will get this vaccine.
The challenge lies ahead in manufacturing, preserving and distributing such vaccines. A total of two doses are required which will be shot after 28 days after the first shot of vaccination. It is a tough task for the government to manage the vaccine rollout along with its pricing.
Government has Uphill Task Ahead:
It is most likely that the government will subsides the vaccine not only for the poor but also for the majority of Indians. And thus, it is evident that the government will bear the cost of vaccination for each individual. There are close to 1.35 billion Indians that are required to be vaccinated.
It is an uphill task for the government, and it will also take some time till the vaccine reaches to the last person. One will have to wait for the government’s announcement regarding the budget granted for vaccine rollout.
But one can expect that the final pricing will be close to Rs. 300-5000 at max while the government will most likely subside the vaccine for majority of Indians.
Thus, common Indians shouldn’t be much worried about the pricing since government will most likely subsides it for us. In Bihar, the BJP has already promised free vaccine to all and same has been promised in Tamil Nadu. It is likely that other states as well will announce it sooner or later while the government will fund the states.
The major reason for cost escalation comes from the technology used in manufacturing the vaccine and the preservation required to keep the vaccine. It is a hard task for the authorities to preserve vaccine at -75 degree Celsius and then transport it to all over India.
Authorities are working on it to find out methods to reduce pricing. Members at NITI Aayog are dealing with this issue and one can expect the announcements within the next two months. Other countries as well have been mulling over the pricing that is similar to the Rupee equivalent. Some of them are costing at $55-60 while others are costing up to $39 as in USA.