Bangladesh's Beximco Pharmaceuticals will buy up to three million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from Serum Institute of India at about USD 8 each for sale in the private market, Beximco's chief operating officer told Reuters.
The COO, Rabbur Reza, said that was about twice the price of around USD 4 that Beximco had agreed for separate supplies of five million doses a month, over the first half of the year, for the Bangladeshi government's subsidised mass-vaccination programme.
Serum Institute will begin deliveries of the shot later this month, both those for state and private use, Reza told Reuters on Tuesday. The vaccine is administered in two separate doses per patient, typically with weeks between them.
Private sales of the vaccine by Beximco could begin in Bangladesh next month, and at a retail price of about Tk 1,125 (USD 13.27) per dose, Reza said. Currently they have a deal for 1 million doses which could be raised by another 2 million, he added.
But, Beximco will not begin private sale of the vaccine before Bangladesh government starts inoculation, Rabbur Reza confirmed while talking to The Daily Star over phone today.
Beximco, one of Bangladesh's biggest pharmaceutical companies, is the exclusive distributor of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the country.
Reza also told Reuters that Beximco had preliminary discussions with other Indian vaccine developers such as Biological E and Bharat Biotech, whose shot was also approved this month by India for emergency use.
"As of now, our partner is Serum and we will continue with them, that's our goal," the COO said in the phone interview with Reuters. "If the government wants more vaccines, we can discuss other vaccines too that Serum is working on -- if the government wants something other than the AstraZeneca one."
Serum Institute, the world's biggest vaccine maker, plans to sell 100 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine for Rs 200 (USD 2.73) each to the Indian government, and will charge slightly higher for subsequent purchases. India has already bought 11 million doses at that initial rate.
Serum wants to sell the shot for 1,000 rupees (USD13.66) a dose in the private market, whenever that is allowed by New Delhi.
Though Beximco is initially paying USD 4 per dose for the vaccine for the Bangladeshi government programme, the price will eventually be adjusted to around the average rate the Indian government would pay Serum, Reuters quoted Reza as saying.
Serum is bearing the cost of transporting the vaccines to Dhaka from India.
Reza said Beximco has the option to buy additional volumes from Serum for the state vaccination programme than the currently agreed 30 million doses for the country.