On January 2, ABP News claimed that India would administer COVID-19 vaccine to 3 crore people for free in the first phase, while the US and UK are charging Rs. 5,000 and Rs. 3,000 respectively. ABP News took down its post after Alt News Hindi published a fact-check report but an archived link can be found here and a screenshot has been added below.

It didn’t take long for the claim to go viral on social media. Cabinet minister Nand Gopal Gupta was also found sharing it. (Archive link)

Twitter user @ThePushpendra_ pushed out a tweet which received more than 1,800 retweets at the time of writing. (Archive link) Several people have shared this claim on Facebook and Twitter.

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Fact-check

American and British governments have decided that their citizens will be given the vaccine free of cost. ABP News’s claim is false.

India

On January 2, Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan revealed that in the first phase, 1 crore health workers and 2 crore frontline workers would receive the vaccine free of cost. He stated that the government was still finalising the details of how to administer the vaccine to the remaining 27 crore people on the priority list by July.

Apart from this, several states including Bihar, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Assam promised to provide the vaccine for free.

Vaccine prices in India

India has approved two COVID-19 vaccines – Serum Institute’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is being manufactured locally by the Serum Institute, and is being rolled out as ‘Covishield’ in India. In an interview with NDTV, Adar Poonawala, CEO of the Serum Institute, said, “The initial 10 million doses of the Oxford vaccine Covishield will be given to the Government of India at Rs. 200 per dose.” According to the report, the price of the Bharat Biotech vaccine has not been released yet. Poonawala added that the price of Covishield in the private sector would be Rs. 1000 per dose, which means that a common citizen would have to pay Rs. 2,000 for the two doses.

United States

According to the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US government is purchasing the vaccine using taxpayers’ money and giving it out for free. However, vaccine providers may be charging administration fees to deliver the shots. They can collect these charges from the patient’s public or private insurance company. However, for patients without insurance, this charge will be deducted from the Health Resources and Services Administration Provider Relief Fund.

Vaccine prices in the US (the prices at which the US government will buy the vaccine)

Reuters reported that the US government would buy 100 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at $39 per dose (about Rs 2,860). According to The Guardian, it will purchase the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for $4 per dose. A BBC story listed the cost of the COVID-19 vaccine per dose. The information about the vaccine included in the chart has been credited to the vaccine companies. It shows that the cost of the Moderna vaccine is Rs 2,400 in the US, whereas the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is about Rs 1,500 and the Oxford-AstraZeneca one is Rs. 300 (The amounts in the chart are given in USD, which we converted into INR.)

Contrary to the claim ABP News made, none of these vaccines is priced at Rs. 5,000. Even when the per-dose price is doubled, the final cost does not surpass Rs. 5,000. Since the US government is procuring the vaccine, US citizens will not have to pay separately to get the shots.

England

The UK government’s website mentions that the COVID-19 shot would be distributed only through the National Health Service (NHS) and that this would be a free vaccination drive.

According to the BBC’s January 11 story, 1.5 million people have been administered the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine so far. It states further that no payment will be required for the vaccine because it will be given for free through the NHS.

How much is the UK government is paying for the vaccine?

We found a report about the preparation of the COVID-19 vaccine on the website of the National Audit Office of England (NAO). It mentioned that the UK government will invest Rs. 11.5 billion (£ 11.7 billion) to buy or manufacture the COVID-19 vaccine.

A Bloomberg Quint report dated December 16, 2020, states that according to the UK’s National Audit Office, the Government of England will spend around Rs 11.5 billion for the production and purchase of COVID vaccine. The UK has signed a contract to buy 267 million doses of the vaccine.

Furthermore, a report in The Guardian quoted the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), UK which stated that information about the vaccine payment made by the British government would not be released to the public. Therefore, it cannot be confirmed what the UK government has paid for the vaccine.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is the only one common to India, the US, and the UK. It is priced at Rs. 200 in India for the first 100 million doses, while in the US and UK, it costs around Rs. 300.

Livemint’s report also mentions the countries that have promised to provide a free COVID-19 vaccine, including Japan, the US, France, and Norway.

On January 5, The Quint published a fact-check report, investigating the truth behind this claim.

ABP News therefore falsely claimed that the US and UK are charging Rs. 5,000 and Rs. 3,000 for the COVID-19 vaccine respectively. In reality, both nations have made it clear that the shot will be provided free of cost to their citizens.

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