Serum Institute says Covishield is most affordable jab

SII, which manufactures the AstraZeneca vaccine Covishield at its Pune facility, said that the initial prices were kept very low globally as it was based on advance funding given by the countries for at-risk vaccine manufacturing…reports Asian Lite News

 The Serum Institute of India (SII) on Saturday broke its silence over the pricing of its Covid-19 vaccine ‘Covishield’ and said that it is the most affordable vaccine available in the market today.

SII, which manufactures the AstraZeneca vaccine Covishield at its Pune facility, said that the initial prices were kept very low globally as it was based on advance funding given by the countries for at-risk vaccine manufacturing.

The initial supply price of the vaccine for all government immunisation programmes, including in India, was the lowest, it said.

“The price of the vaccine is still lower than a lot of other medical treatment and essentials required to treat Covid-19 and other life-threatening diseases,” Adar C. Poonawalla, Chief Executive Officer, SII, said in a statement.

A medical health worker giving a shot of Covishield vaccine to a frontline worker. Covid-19 vaccination drive at private hospital daryaganj in New Delhi

The company also said that only a limited portion of Sll’s volume will be sold to private hospitals at Rs 600 per dose.

Earlier this week, the company had announced that Covishield will be sold at Rs 400 per dose to the state governments and Rs 600 to the private hospitals.

The Indian biotechnology and pharmaceuticals company announced the new prices after the government allowed vaccination for all persons above the age of 18 years from May 1 onwards.

Protection from ‘double mutant’

Covishield vaccine offers protection from double mutant variant of novel coronavirus, shows a study by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB).

CCMB Director Rakesh K. Mishra termed this as a very preliminary but encouraging result.

“Early results using in vitro neutralisation assay show that both convalescent (prior infection) sera and Covishield vaccinated sera offer protection against the B.1.617 variant, aka double mutant,” he said in a tweet.

The CCMB’s finding came close on the heels of an announcement by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) that Covaxin neutralises multiple variants of SARS-CoV-2 and effectively works against the double mutant strain as well.


Media statement of Serum Institute India
(Twitter)

The ‘double mutant’ (B.1.617) is said to be responsible for the current surge in Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra and other states in India. Scientists earlier feared that vaccines may not offer protection from ‘double mutant’ as it may escape the immune system.

After the CCMB’s latest announcement that Covishield too offers protection from ‘double mutant’, experts say this again underscore the need for people to get vaccinated.

CCMB scientist Divya Tej Sowpati tweeted that the convalescent sera is from September 2020, hence most likely of an infection of a variant which is not B.1.617.

He also pointed to misinformation and confusion about the circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants in India.

Though B.1.617 is called ‘double mutant’, it is characterised by more than 15 mutations. “It got dubbed the ‘double mutant’ because of two spike mutations, L452R and E484Q, which were mutations of concern because of their immune escape properties, and possible high infectivity,” wrote Sowpati, who is leading Covid-19 genomics at CCMB.

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