A municipal corporation worker shows vials of COVID-19 vaccine before administering to beneficiaries, at a KMC health centre in Kolkata. (Photo:PTI)
NEW DELHI: In a bid to make vaccines against Covid-19 affordable, prices of Covishield and Covaxin jabs are likely to be capped at Rs 275 per dose, with an additional service charge of Rs 150. A regular market approval is awaited for both the vaccines from India’s drug regulator, the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI).
The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has already been directed to start working towards capping the price.
Currently, each dose of the Bharat Biotech-produced Covaxin is priced at Rs 1,200, while Serum Institute’s Covishield costs Rs 780 in private facilities. A service charge of 150 is included in the price.
On January 19, a Subject Expert Committee on Covid-19 of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation had recommended granting regular market approval to Covishield and Covaxin for use in the adult population subject to certain conditions.
Serum Institute of India director (government and regulatory affairs) Prakash Kumar Singh had submitted an application to the DCGI on October 25 seeking regular market approval for its Covishield vaccine.
Bharat Biotech director V. Krishna Mohan had also submitted information on the chemistry, manufacturing and controls, along with the pre-clinical and clinical data while seeking regular market authorisation for Covaxin.
As India logged 2,85,914 new Covid-19 cases and 665 deaths in the last 24 hours, an ICMR study has revealed that individuals infected with Omicron have a significant immune responses, which could neutralise not only the Omicron but also other variants of concern, including the most prevalent Delta variant.
The country has 22.23 lakh active cases, 5.55 per cent of its caseload. The daily positivity rate is 16.16 per cent, while the recovery rate is 93.23 per cent. Over 163.58 crore vaccine doses for Covid-19 have already been administered in the country. About 93.24 crore people have been given the first dose of the vaccine and 69.31 crore citizens have been fully vaccinated.
The Centre has been supporting the states and union territories by providing them Covid vaccines free of cost. More than 163.63 crores vaccine doses have been provided to states/UTs so far through the direct state procurement method.
While emphasising the need for an Omicron-specific vaccine strategy, the ICMR study suggests that the immune response induced by the Omicron could effectively neutralise the Delta variant, making the re-infection with Delta variant less likely, thereby displacing the Delta as the dominant strain.
The study conducted by ICMR scientists, including Priya Abraham, Rima R. Sahay, Pragya D. Yadav and Gajanan N Sapkal, is yet to be peer-reviewed and has been released on bioRxiv preprint server. It was conducted on 39 individuals, of whom 25 had taken both the doses of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine; eight people had taken double doses of Pfizer jab, while six were not vaccinated. Of the 39 people, 28 were foreign returnees from the UAE, South/West/East Africa, Middle East, the US and the UK, and 11 were their high-risk contacts. All of these individuals had been infected with Omicron.
The study assessed the IgG antibody and Neutralising Antibody (NAb) response in the people with breakthrough and natural Covid-19 infections. It showed there was a substantial immune response in the individuals infected with Omicron. It also revealed that neutralising antibodies could effectively neutralise the Omicron and other variants of concern (VOCs), including the most prevalent Delta variant.