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RTI reveals that ICMR is clueless as to the total cost of Covaxin’s development

According to Alpha News Call, An RTI query revealed that the Indian Council of Medical Research has no idea about the development cost of Covaxin (India’s indigenous Covid-19 vaccination) made by Bharat Biotech Limited.

India Today’s RTI query revealed that ICMR had provided Rs 35 crore to develop the vaccine. It would receive a mere 5% royalty when the profits begin to come in.

Covaxin is the most expensive vaccine in India. Private hospitals have been allowed to use Covaxin for a price cap of Rs 1,410.

It is more expensive than the Serum Institute of India’s Covishield or Russia’s Sputnik V, two other vaccines approved for Indian use.

Bharat Biotech justifies the high price by stating that it must recover its costs for product development, manufacturing, and clinical trials.

India Today requested information from ICMR to find out the manufacturing and development costs of Covaxin. The vaccine was developed in collaboration with BBIL.

ICMR responded to the question about the development cost of Covaxin by saying, “Estimated cost incurred ICMR is Rs35 crore.” ICMR shared the numbers of the investment in development but didn’t reveal the total cost of development.

Bharat Biotech was asked how much of the Covaxin development cost was shared by it. It stated that “ICMR is unaware of the cost incurred BBIL”. This raises the question of whether ICMR knows how much it costs for vaccine development. If so, on what basis did it pay Rs 35 crore?

It responded to the question about the revenue share from Covaxin by saying, “5% royalty will ICMR be paid by BBIL, following the terms of this MoU.”

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