New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Globally, Bharat Biotech's Covaxin is now the third costliest vaccine for COVID-19 which amounts as much as Pfizer abroad - around USD 19. This might make you wonder why is the made-in-India vaccine priced so high? Here’s all you need to know.

Centre released revised prices of vaccines

The government on Tuesday fixed the maximum price that private hospitals can charge for COVID-19 vaccines at Rs 780 a dose for Covishield, Rs 1,145 a dose for Sputnik V, and Rs 1,410 a dose for the indigenously made Covaxin including taxes and 150-rupee service charge.

Following this change in price as per the new policy, Covaxin has become the most expensive vaccine available in India. It is not only costlier than Covishield developed by the Serum Institute of India but Covaxin costs even more than the imported Sputnik V from Russia.

Why is Covaxin priced so high?

Rakesh Mishra, Advisor, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology said that Covaxin is priced high because its technology involves higher costs.

"Covaxin's technology is very different from Covishield and Sputnik. For Covaxin, an inactivated whole virus is used, so hundreds of litres of expensive serum have to be imported, and the virus is grown in this serum under BSL labs, with utmost precautions, and then inactivated," Mishra said.

He also added that the difference between the price of Covishiled and Sputnik V could be because of commercial reasons. Technology-wise, the mRNA vaccines are the easiest and cheapest to make, and both Covishield and Sputnik are made using this technology.

These vaccines do not use live viruses, unlike Covaxin. Instead, they use "spike protein" found on the surface of the Covid virus to induce an immune response. However, the mRNA technology allows a quick response to target the new variant while Covaxin's technology takes a longer time.

Facts determining the cost of COVID-19 vaccines

Factors that affect the cost of Covid vaccines include raw material, packaging, expenses in getting licenses, cost of product development, clinical trials, overheads including plant operation and maintenance.

Additionally, the cost of educating health workers and taxes paid to the supply chain of distributors, stockists, and retail chemists is also included. In the future when the volume and the number of manufacturers of Covaxin increases, its price is expected to come down.

Posted By: Sugandha Jha