The recommendation of the subject expert committee (SEC) for the grant of marketing authorisation for Bharat Biotech‘s Covaxin for 2-18-year-old children has put the fate of Zydus Cadila vaccine rollout in question, as the price of the vaccine seems to be holding up its induction in the vaccination programme.
Zydus Cadila has the drug regulator’s emergency use authorisation to administer its Covid vaccine, ZyCoV-D, in children aged 12-18 years. As Covaxin is set to become available for the same age group as well, the bargaining position of the government will improve, as negotiations are underway with Zydus regarding the price of the vaccine.
“While the government had said that the Zydus vaccine will be added to the vaccination programme in October, negotiations are still not over,” said a government official. A person in the know said Zydus Cadila has quoted less than ₹300 for a single dose of its vaccine. However, this price doesn’t include the price of the pharmaJet, which is required to administer the vaccine.
The pharmaJet, a needle-free applicator for painless intradermal vaccine delivery, has been imported by Ahmedabad-based Zydus Cadila.
“It’s an expensive device and hence jacks up the overall price of the vaccine,” the government official said. The pharmaJet penetrates the cell membrane. Each jet delivers a certain amount of the vaccine. So, a single dose is spread into two shots across two arms.
The jet injector can be used for administering around 20,000 doses.
The government has been buying Covaxin at ₹225 a dose and the other India-made Covid vaccine, Covishield, at ₹215.
Health secretary Rajesh Bhushan had earlier said the price of the Zydus Cadila vaccine would be quite different from the existing vaccines.