Vaccine maker Serum Institute of India on Friday said the precaution dose of its Covishield vaccine against Covid-19 will be priced at Rs 600 per shot for eligible individuals.
SII CEO Adar Poonawalla also welcomed the government’s move to allow precaution dose of the vaccine to all aged above 18 years at private vaccination centers, saying it will further provide long-term protection against the virus, and aid ease of travel.
“End-users will pay Rs 600 for the booster dose and the hospitals will get at discounted price,” Poonawalla said in a statement.
The Union Health Ministry on Friday announced that those above the age of 18 years who have completed nine months after the administration of the second dose will be eligible for the precaution dose.
Reacting to the government’s decision in a tweet, Poonawalla said, ‘We are delighted by GOI’s announcement on booster. The decision will further provide long term protection and aid ease of travel. ‘
He, however, said the nine-month gap was a bit long although the company had 200 million dosages in stock. SII has the capacity to produce 4 billion dosages.
Poonawalla also exuded confidence that the whole country can be vaccinated in about three months in case of requirement in future.
SII and Bharat Biotech have been major suppliers of Covid-19 vaccines to the government so far.
Earlier in the day, he had stated that the booster dose should be made available to the public, saying it would help in protecting against the virus in future besides helping Indians overcome restrictions while traveling abroad.
In a tweet responding to a user, who highlighted difficulties faced by Indians traveling abroad who got their second dose in April 2021, Poonawalla had said, “I agree with you & sympathize for the inconvenience, boosters now should be made available to the public as and CHOICE. ”
He further said GoI “has done a fantastic job, protecting our nation with two doses, but in the context of future protection and travel restrictions, boosters will be useful”.
According to the health ministry, so far, about 96% of all those above the age of 15 years in India have received at least one vaccine dose, while about 83% have received both doses.
More than 2.4 crore precaution doses have also been administered to healthcare workers, frontline workers and those aged above 60 years. Besides, 45% of beneficiaries in the 12-14 years age group have received the first dose, the ministry said.
The ongoing free Covid-19 inoculation program through government vaccination centers for the first and second dose to the eligible population as well as the precaution dose to healthcare workers, frontline workers and those above 60 years will be accelerated, the ministry stated.