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Opinion

Covid-19 vaccination: Pfizer and Moderna agreements are at an obstacle

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The Narendra Modi government is likely to inoculate 300 million Indians with Covid-19 vaccines made in India just because authorities are quickly losing hope of signing deals with Pfizer or Moderna, the two companies that have launched vaccines so far.

While negotiations with Moderna hit a roadblock a few months ago, Pfizer has yet to come up with the details requested by the drug regulator.

According to officials involved in the vaccine administration plan, there are doubts that Pfizer will have sufficient reserve capacity to meet Indian requirements after meeting its current commitments to the US, UK, EU, Bahrain, Canada, Mexico and Saudi Arabia. The drug dealer has a few plants, including one in Lincoln, Nebraska. According to media reports, Pfizer has received orders for 1.1 billion doses of its vaccine.

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The committee of subject matter experts at the Central Drug Standards Control Organization, or CDSCO – the body that reviews applications for new vaccines – asked Pfizer to present its case two weeks ago, but the company sought more time to formally file your documents for an emergency authorization.

Interestingly, although Pfizer has delayed submitting its proposal to CDSCO, it is in contact with the government’s expert committee on vaccine administration (NAGVAC). “From our discussion, it appears that Pfizer may not have the required capacity to meet demand from India,” said a senior official who asked not to be named.

Both Pfizer and Moderna, another senior official who claimed on condition of anonymity, have received several co-production offers from Indian companies. “But any co-production in India would also involve a new round of trials in this country under our drug laws. And that would mean additional costs, ”said this person.

While Pfizer can still be tapped for vaccine supply for the second half of 2021, India’s vaccine planners are eager to align supplies for the 300 million people in their first four priority groups.

India has few cold storage and logistics chains that can support Pfizer’s requirement to keep its vaccines below 70 degrees Celsius; price is also a limitation. According to one official, the initial budget of the Ministry of Health for vaccination is 50 billion rupees.

Up to seven Indian vaccines are in different stages of trials. Two others, Covishield from SII and Covaxin from Bharat Biotech have applied for emergency approval. The SII is expected to receive the go-ahead for the emergency deployment in the coming days. The company manufactures the AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine in India.

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