Bharat Biotech to Charge as Much as Double Its Peer for Vaccines
A health worker prepares a dose of the Bharat Biotech Ltd. Covaxin vaccine. (Photographer: T. Narayan/Bloomberg)

Bharat Biotech to Charge as Much as Double Its Peer for Vaccines

Bharat Biotech International Ltd., India’s home-grown vaccine developer, priced its coronavirus shots as much as double that of its local competitor, citing high manufacturing costs even as the nation grapples with record infections.

The company will sell Covaxin for 600 rupees ($8) a dose to state governments and 1,200 rupees a dose to private hospitals, it said in a statement on Twitter late Saturday. Bharat Biotech said it has set aside 50% of its capacity for the central government for 150 rupees a dose.

The pricing makes Covaxin twice as costly for private hospitals than the most-widely available Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India and developed by AstraZeneca Plc. Serum is charging 400 rupees a shot for state governments, while private hospitals pay 600 rupees per dose.

“Recovering cost is essential in the journey of innovation toward other vaccines,” Bharat Biotech said. Covaxin is an inactivated and highly purified vaccine, making manufacturing expensive due to low process yields, it said.

India’s health infrastructure is crumbling under a new wave of virus cases and deaths as the nation struggles with shortages in vaccines, hospital beds, oxygen supply for Covid-19 patients, medicines and testing kits.

The U.S. government has promised more help for India. Secretary of State Antony Bilken said in a tweet that the U.S. will “rapidly deploy additional support,” while White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said they were working to deploy “more supplies.”

The Indian government has pushed Bharat Biotech to double its output by June, and churn out nearly 100 million doses of its inactivated Covaxin shot monthly by September.

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