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Zydus vax to be costlier than Covaxin, roll out soon: Govt

Despite the hard bargain by the government, the final price of Zydus Cadila’s three-dose ZyCoV-D vaccine will be higher than Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Serum Institute’s Covishield.

A highly-placed Health Ministry source told BusinessLine on Tuesday that the price negotiations are final and the vaccine, which got an Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) from the drug regulator in August, will be rolled out soon.

Without giving the precise timeline for ZyCoV-D’s induction in the government’s Covid-19 vaccination programme, the official explained that the higher price for the vaccine is because it is a three-dose regimen, entails special logistics and training schedule as it is not injectable and requires an applicator for intradermal application.

ZyCoV-D’s special feature is that it is needle-free. Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, in his interaction with the media, on Tuesday, said that pricing was being sorted out.

According to industry insiders, Zydus Cadila anticipated the market price for the first plasmid DNA vaccine to be ₹1,500-1,900 for the three-dose regimen, which works out to around ₹500- 633 per dose.

The price includes the cost of a needle-free applicator for administering the vaccine. Given the public procurement model for mass vaccination, the government has been negotiating with Zydus Cadila to keep the price closer to the existing two-dose vaccines — Covishield at ₹205 per dose and Covaxin at ₹215 per dose. The company management, however, was tight-lipped about the price negotiations.

For adolescents too
With 66.6 per cent efficacy, ZyCoV-D is now the first Covid-19 vaccine that can be administered to adolescent population of 12-18 years of age, besides the adults, in an interval of 0-28-56 days. Government sources said each dose has to be administered at “two sites”, both arms, for example.

“The roll-out of the vaccine got a little delayed because of the training that had to be imparted to the vaccinators to administer this needle-free vaccine. There were also some logistic issues that had to be sorted out before it could be rolled out,” the Ministry official said.

Besides, ZyCoV-D, Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin has also got a green signal from the expert panel of DCGI for children in the 2-18 age group. The Hindu BusinessLine

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