Centre places order with SII for 11 million doses of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine

India orders 11 million doses of 'Covishield' at Rs 210 each with Serum Institute
Police personnel guard near the trucks, which will be used to transport the Covishield vaccine from Serum Institute of India to different parts of the country, stationed at Pimpri Chinchwad in Pune, Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. PTI

New Delhi: The Union government on Monday placed a purchase order with Serum Institute of India (SII) for 11 million doses of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine, Covishield, each costing Rs 210 including GST, official sources said.

Dispatch of the vaccine is likely to start by late Monday evening, they said.

According to the order placed, each dose of the vaccine has been priced at Rs 200 and with GST of Rs 10 it would cost Rs 210.

Confirming the news, the Serum Institute said it has received the purchase order from the Centre for the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

"We have received the (purchase) order from the Government of India on Monday afternoon," a senior SII official told PTI.

The health ministry is also likely to soon sign a purchase order for another anti-coronavirus vaccine, Covaxin, which has been indigenously developed by Bharat Biotech, a source said.

Covishield vaccine doses would be initially shipped to 60 consignee points from where those would be distributed to various vaccination centres across India, the sources said.

As many as 2,54,500 doses of Covishield are set to be delivered at Delhi's central storage, Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality hospital, in Tahirpur.

The HLL Lifecare Limited, a public sector undertaking, issued the supply order on behalf of the Union Health Ministry in the name of Prakash Kumar Singh, Additional Director, Government and Regulatory Affairs at Serum Institute of India.

"The Ministry of Health has nominated HLL Lifecare Limited vide letter dated January 11 as procuring agency for procurement of vaccine. For the purpose of this order, the Ministry of Health, Government of India is the 'purchaser' and HLL Lifecare Limited (HLL) is 'procuring agency'.

Vaccine-laden trucks will move out from Manjari location of the Pune-based SII amid elaborate police security. The Maharashtra government has decided to provide police security to the trucks carrying the vaccine up to airports and to the borders of the state.

India had recently approved two vaccines, Oxford's Covishield manufactured by the Serum Institute in the country and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin, for restricted emergency use.

According to the Health Ministry, two doses of the vaccine need to be taken by an individual 28 days apart to complete the immunisation schedule. Protective levels of antibodies are generally developed two weeks after receiving the second dose, it has said.

The country will launch its COVID-19 vaccination drive from January 16 in what Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called the world's largest inoculation programme with priority to be given to nearly three crore healthcare and frontline workers.

According to the 'COVID-19 Vaccine Operational Guidelines", the shots will be offered first to healthcare workers, and frontline workers and then to persons above 50 years of age, followed by persons younger than 50 years of age with associated comorbidities based on evolving pandemic situation.

Our vaccines more cost-effective: PM

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said the two already approved made-in-India COVID-19 vaccines are more cost-effective than any other in the world and have been developed as per the country's needs.

Interacting with chief ministers of all states to discuss the COVID-19 situation and the vaccination roll-out in the country, Modi also said that apart from the two already approved vaccines, four others are in the pipeline.

"Our experts have taken all precautions to provide the countrymen with effective vaccines," he said.

The two approved COVID-19 vaccines in India more cost-effective than other vaccines in the world and have been developed as per our needs and situation, he said.

India is entering a decisive phase of vaccination in the fight against COVID-19, he asserted, pointing that the world's largest vaccination programme will start from January 16.

Public representatives are not part of the three-crore corona warriors and frontline workers to be vaccinated first, Modi said.

In the first phase, the cost of vaccination for these 3 crore people would be borne by the central government, he added.

(With PTI inputs)

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