New Delhi: The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has received a royalty of Rs 171.74 crore from Bharat Biotech on the sale of Covaxin till 31 January 2022, the government told Parliament Tuesday.
ICMR spent Rs 35 crore on the research and development of the indigenous vaccine that is being manufactured by Bharat Biotech, an has made a profit of Rs 136 crore on the vaccine. The total budget for the development of health research, of which ICMR is a part, for FY 2022-23 is Rs 3,200 crore.
“ICMR has received royalty of Rs 171.74 crore till 31 January 2022 from Bharat Biotech from sales of Covaxin. ICMR has spent around Rs 35 crore in R&D of Covaxin. Funds with ICMR are utilised for health research activities including emerging research priorities and research capacity building,” Minister of State for Health Bharati Pravin Pawar said in a written reply to a question from Congress’ Mallikarjun Kharge, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha.
Covaxin was developed as a joint venture between the ICMR and Bharat Biotech. The SARS-CoV-2 virus (original Wuhan strain) was isolated by the National Institute of Virology in Pune in January 2020. It was shared with the manufacturer and a whole virion inactivated vaccine was developed, using the technology used for some of the earliest vaccines known to humankind, such as the polio vaccine.
ICMR entitled to a royalty of 5%
Last year, ICMR chief Dr Balram Bhargava had told the parliamentary standing committee on science and technology, environment, forests and climate change that the apex medical research body is entitled to a royalty of five per cent on the sale price of Covaxin. This means that the total sale price of Covaxin till 31 January 2022 stands at approximately Rs 3,263 crore.
Each Covaxin dose in the private sector costs Rs 1,200 to the recipient — including those who are currently being given precaution doses. The vaccine is given free of cost in the government sector.
While much has been made of the indigenous vaccine, the rate of production has been one of the limitations of Covaxin, with just about 14 per cent of vaccines administered in the country being from the Bharat Biotech stable.
India has, so far, administered over 170 crore doses of Covid vaccines of which a little over 25 crore are of Covaxin.
The advanced biosafety requirements for its manufacture have been one of the issues in expansion but there are hopes in the government that numbers will rise this year.
(Edited by Neha Mahajan)