India has signed a purchase order with vaccine producer Serum Institute to procure AstraZeneca’s vaccine against COVID-19, a source said on Monday.
The order, which is the first step in one of the world’s largest vaccination programmes against the novel coronavirus, was signed for 11 million doses at 200 rupees ($2.72) per dose, reports Reuters citing Local television channel CNBC-TV 18.
The Indian government has also signed a purchase agreement with Indian firm Bharat Biotech for its COVID-19 vaccine.
Representatives for Serum, Bharat Biotech and India’s health ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
India aims to secure 600 million doses for its vaccination drive that aims to inoculate 300 million citizens over the next six to eight months. The programme is expected to begin on January 16.
Serum, the world’s largest producer of vaccines, has stockpiled 50 million doses for immediate distribution.
India’s drug regulator had given emergency use approval for both vaccines earlier this month. Two other vaccines – Zydus Cadila’s ZyCoV-D and Russia’s Sputnik V – are still in trials in India.
Meanwhile, the government’s decision to approve the homegrown Bharat Biotech vaccine has met with criticism from health experts for the lack of data showing its efficacy.
At nearly 10.5 million, India has the world’s second highest number of novel coronavirus infections behind the United States, although its rate of increase in cases has been slowing.❐