New Delhi: US pharmaceutical company Pfizer will supply its Covid-19 vaccine only through government contracts and not through private procurement whenever it enters India, ThePrint has learnt.
In an email response, a spokesperson of the pharma giant said: “During this pandemic phase, Pfizer will prioritize supporting governments in their immunization programs and supply the COVID-19 vaccine only through government contracts based on agreements with respective government authorities and following regulatory authorization or approval”
“Pfizer remains committed to continuing our engagement with the (Indian) Government towards making the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine available for use in the Government’s immunization program in the country,” the spokesperson told ThePrint.
This was in response to media reports indicating that the government is exploring options that will allow the private sector to directly procure vaccines from these foreign companies.
This will, reportedly, help shift the burden of costlier vaccines from the government onto private players.
In the US, Pfizer’s vaccine costs around $40 (Rs 3,000 approx) for two doses. Meanwhile, the price of both the doses of Covaxin and Covishield — the vaccines currently in circulation in India — stands at Rs 300.
Pfizer vaccine entry may take months
In an attempt to tackle the aggressive second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Narendra Modi government has invited a number of foreign drug makers to bring their vaccines to India.
The government Tuesday granted emergency licence to vaccines that have received authorisation in the US, the UK, Europe, Japan, or from the World Health Organization (WHO).
However, it may take several months before Pfizer could start supplying its vaccines here.
As reported earlier by ThePrint, the company is said to be firm on signing indemnity bonds — the legal bonds that protect the company from being sued in case the vaccine ends up causing any side-effects — before agreeing to send its vaccines to India.
“Pfizer has signed the indemnity bond with every country it has been supplying its Covid-19 vaccine. The discussion of pricing would only start when India would agree to sign the bond,” an industry source had said.
In response to an RTI application in January, the Centre had said that it currently has no proposal to indemnify or exempt vaccine manufacturers from any liability in case of serious side-effects or adverse reactions after inoculation.
According to sources, it was because of the Indian government’s resistance to an indemnity bond that Pfizer withdrew its application for emergency use authorisation to its vaccine, earlier this year.
(Edited by Rachel John)