Adar Poonawalla, CEO and owner of Serum Institute of India said on Monday a minimum of 100 million doses of Covishield will be available by January and hundreds of million could be ready by the end of February, reports NDTV.
Poonawalla, whose company has an agreement with the government to mass-manufacture doses of the Covid vaccine, said around 40 million doses had already been produced and that the centre would buy 90 per cent of these doses for ₹ 250 or less per dose.
The rest will be sold for between ₹ 500 and ₹ 600 per dose for the private market, he said.
"It will be another two-three months for the vaccine to be available in India. By January we will have 100 million doses, minimum. The target set by the government is 300 to 400 million doses by July. We are putting a MRP of ₹ 1,000 - for the private market it will be around ₹ 500 or 600 (+ ₹ 200 for the distributor) and ₹ 250 or less for the government," Mr Poonawalla said.
He also said the 10 per cent expected to be released to the private market is unlikely to be available before March, making vaccine distribution the preserve of the government till then. The delay, he said, would be because of time needed to complete licensing formalities.
"Till then the general public is not likely to get it easily. They will have to go to government distribution points and, if the are eligible, then they will get it. Otherwise they have to wait till March... because the priority is to vaccine our most vulnerable," Mr Poonawalla said.
In June government sources told NDTV that front-line workers - doctors, nurses and others - would be first in line to be vaccinated.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to chair a virtual meet with chief ministers of the eight worst affected states on Tuesday. He is expected to discuss vaccine distribution.
This morning pharma giant AstraZeneca, who developed the vaccine candidate jointly with the University of Oxford, said it could be around 90 per cent effective when administered over two doses separated by a month. This is based on data from trials in Britain and Brazil.
More crucially, the Covishield vaccine works out to be cheaper than the two other candidates that have released trial data in recent days - Pfizer and Moderna. It can also be transported and stored at fridge temperatures; experts say this makes it easier to distribute, especially in poor countries.
India is the second worst-affected country with over 90 lakh confirmed cases and 1.34 lakh deaths. As of this morning, there are around 4.43 lakh active cases in the country.