City-based Serum Institute of India has made a commitment to cut the price of its penta-valent vaccine by 60 % and make it available to the world community at US$ 1.75 (about Rs. 100) per dose - the lowest possible cost in the world.
This was pledged by Dr. Cyrus Poonawalla, CMD, Serum Institute, at a gathering of global donors and international healthcare agencies organised by GAVI - the Geneva based Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation at London.
Pent-valent vaccine helps protect children against five potential killers - diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis-B & haemophilus influenza type B.
Setup by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, GAVI has pledged to raise US$ 3.7 billion and immunise 243 million children across the world. Dr. Poonawalla made the announcement in the presence of Microsoft founder Bill Gates and British Prime Minister David Cameron, who attended the pledging conference. He said, "The very genesis of Serum Institute was a quest to make vaccines more affordable for the common man.
The partnership with GAVI serves as a good platform for us to reach out to those poor nations and bring comfort to millions of underprivileged across the globe."
"While we recognise our moral responsibility to keep these vaccines affordable, I strongly believe that it is appropriate for other manufacturers, especially the big pharma companies to also follow our lead and make vaccines available at more affordable prices; otherwise our effort to offer vaccines at lower prices will be defeated," he added.
Dr. Poonawalla called on global donors to ensure long term funding beyond 2015, and urged them to consider the boons of vaccination for children in the most vulnerable countries. Serum Institute, which exports to 130 nations is also developing affordable rotavirus and pneumococcal vaccines for GAVI and expects to get WHO approval for these.