Citing very high prices and specialised logistical requirements, an official said that Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine may prove to be too expensive

India may not purchase Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine due to its high cost, according to a report by Business Standard. With India being the second-most populous nation in the world and Pfizer's vaccine being priced at $37 per dose, the cost of vaccinating the country may prove to be too steep.

Senior government officials told the publication that the Centre may not procure the vaccine made by American and Germany pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and BioNTech due to the price. In comparison, Covishield, tested and made by Serum Institute of India and developed by Oxford-Astrazeneca is priced at just $3 per dose.

Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine is the first one to be given emergency use authorisation by the UK, US, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Israel.

Russian Covid-19 vaccine candidate Sputnik V is comparatively inexpensive too at under $10 per dose. Indigenous vaccines made by Bharat Biotech dubbed COVAXIN and Zydus Cadila's ZyCov-D are expected to be priced at in the $3-$6 per dose range. Moreover, Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine would require to be stored and transported at a very low temperature of about -70 degree centigrade and the cost of cold-storage technology for this would be exorbitant too only adding to the price of vaccinating the country.

According to analysts at Bernstein, India may buy about 680 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, which means it would spend about $1.9 billion if the vaccine was priced at $3 per dose. Pfizer's vaccine at $37 per dose, would up the price by 12 times to a whopping $22.8 billion.

“There has been a lot of deliberation on whether the Pfizer shots would be accommodative for Indian population, given its high pricing and the public health infrastructure. It is not favourable for the national programme as they are expensive and need a sub-zero storage condition,” a senior government official in the know told the publication.

The official also said that initial funding requirements for the vaccination drive would be fulfilled by the Budget allocated in the current fiscal to the Department of Health & Family Welfare.