States cry foul over discriminatory pricing of Covishield Vaccine by SII – call it unfair to state machinery
Serum Institute of India has set prices for its Covishield vaccine – different for Centre and States. Over it the Centre directed earmarking of 50% of vaccines for sale in open market has triggered doubts around equitable distribution of vaccine between states, as well as between states and private hospitals.
On Wednesday, Pune based SII announced its pricing slots for Covishield vaccine – states can by vaccine at INR 400 per dose, and private hospitals at INR 600 per dose. SII sells vaccine to Centre at INR 150 per dose. It is expected that pricing though issued by Serum Institute, must have been announced with knowledge of Central government. A policy maker at SII said that putting vaccines up in open market for sale would be advantageous – the sales profits would provide incentives to private sector to ramp up vaccine production. But over pricing differentiation between Centre and States, he said, “The question of cooperative federalism is a different argument.”
Serum Institute said in a press release on Wednesday, “For the next two months, we will address the limited capacity by scaling up the vaccine production. Going ahead, 50% of our capacities will be served to the Government of India’s vaccination program, and the remaining 50% will be for the State governments and private hospitals.”
Now the two aspects that are still unclear that’s rambling the States are:
First, who will decide vaccine distribution among the States? Will it be Serum Institute, a private entity? If yes, on what basis will it be? First come first serve or on basis of population or on how severe the condition is in the State?
Second, what will decide distribution of vaccine between States and private hospitals? Will it be more for more established private hospitals that are more lucrative than smaller establishments?
One factor that must be established is distribution of vaccine. Pricing can be deciding domain of the manufacturer but vaccine distribution must be centralized, controlled, equitable and transparent.