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Government continues to seek a middle way in the demand for compensation for vaccines | India News


NEW DELHI: The compensation lawsuit brought by multinational vaccine manufacturers has seen them demand that disputes be resolved overseas, prompting the government to exercise caution on the issue as the two sides try to reach a middle ground.
The Center is collaborating with major multinational pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer and Moderna to source the Covid-19 vaccines, but is also weighing the commitments it makes as part of the deal, as it may have longer-term implications. The government’s view is that while vaccines are needed in the short term, India’s domestic supplies will be comfortable from August.
The compensation will not only affect national standards, but will also set a precedent for the future with other drug manufacturers who are also expected to seek similar facilities for life-saving drugs. In addition, this could also be required for other purchases. The demand of a foreign jurisdiction to resolve particular disputes has caused the Center to consider the consequences.
The sources told TOI that the government will have to offer the same benefits to domestic manufacturers, such as Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech, with the former having already publicly declared its demand.
“The government is engaging with companies with an open mind and is willing to solve it as soon as possible,” said a source, emphasizing that the government is hopeful of negotiating its way beyond Pfizer and Moderna’s insistence on compensation for action for their Covid-19 Vaccines and exemption from possible local trials.
The delicate tightrope walk, where the government seeks to source Pfizer and Moderna vaccines while at the same time defending itself against their tough demands, is part of an elaborate effort to increase supplies. The government has relaxed several regulations in an attempt to increase the availability of vaccines.
The result is already evident as the enhanced production of the Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech gets underway. The impact of increased production will not be felt immediately, as the whole process takes time.
For example, a company like Bharat Biotech takes 45 days to produce the vaccine from the beginning of the process. After that, each batch of vaccine is tested in a facility at the Central Drug Laboratory, Kasauli in Himachal Pradesh, before entering the distribution network comprising shipments to states and then to hospitals and dispensaries.
Increasing production capacity in its own facilities, as well as in moorings, implies immobilizing almost 200 inputs and raw materials: an arduous undertaking that is made even more difficult due to the fight for vaccines. The government has assisted, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Foreign Minister making a strong and persuasive speech to the Biden administration to lift restrictions on raw materials and components used in the manufacture of vaccines.
A breakthrough was made on Saturday when the Biden administration took components out of the scope of the Defense Procurement Act that prohibited US manufacturers from exporting without approval from authorities there. The relaxation of the sidewalks will especially help the Serum Institute, which relies more on American supplies than Bharat Biotech, which sources its needs from Europe and some Asian countries.
In addition, some of the states where the production facilities are located had their own problems to solve, which has caused the process to drag on.
But once the critical issues have largely been resolved, the government expects supply to improve considerably in the coming months. The supply from Moderna, Pfizer and Sputnik V will complement the efforts, the sources said.

Times of India