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No response to global tender for 4 cr vaccine shots, UP extends date for bid submission again

Uttar Pradesh was the first state to float global tender, on 5 May, to procure foreign-made Covid vaccines. Several states had since followed in UP’s footsteps.

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New Delhi: Failing to get a response from international vaccine manufacturers to its global tender floated to procure 4 crore vaccines in the next six months, the Uttar Pradesh government Monday was forced to extend the last date for opening of technical bids to 10 June, for the second time, ThePrint has learnt.

Reeling under a shortage of vaccine, the UP State Medical Supplies Corporation Limited had floated global tenders on 5 May to procure vaccines directly from global manufacturers. It had originally planned to open the technical bids on 21 May, which was first extended to 31 May and now to 10 June.

The state was among the first in the country to float a global tender to ramp up its stock to vaccinate its people.

Navneet Sehgal, Additional Chief Secretary (Information & MSME) in the UP government, confirmed to ThePrint that the date for opening the technical bids has been extended again. “We are hopeful that global manufacturers like Russia’s Sputnik V will participate in the bid,” he said.

In a pre-bid meeting called by the state government on 12 May, representatives from some of the top global vaccine manufacturers such as Sputnik V, Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, Serum Institute of India, Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadilla participated. But after Moderna and Pfizer expressed reservations over some of the bid conditions like the high security money that had to be deposited by the companies and mandated storage requirements for vaccines between 2 degrees and 8 degrees Celsius, the UP government relaxed the condition, according to sources.

The new norms not only reduced the security deposit from Rs 16 crore to Rs 8 crore but also allowed such manufacturers, whose vaccine could be stored and transported at a temperature less than minus 20 degrees Celsius to participate. This was done to allow companies like Pfizer, whose vaccine requires ultra cold temperature for storage, to participate.

But even this failed to enthuse companies.

“We have not heard anything from the manufacturers but I understand that companies like Pfizer and Moderna have issues and are in talks with the Centre,” Sehgal said, but did not specify what these issues are.

Sehgal had earlier told ThePrint that only those vaccine manufacturers who have been approved by the Government of India, or who will get approval in the coming days for use in India, will be selected. 

Sputnik V, developed by Russia’s Gamaleya National Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, is currently the only foreign-made vaccine that has been approved by the Narendra Modi government for production and use in India.

Besides UP, over half a dozen states including Maharashtra, Delhi, Odisha, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Haryana, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh have floated global tenders to procure vaccines from foreign manufacturers directly. But the response has been a damp squib.

On 25 May, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had said Pfizer and Moderna had told the his government they will nor sell Covid-19 vaccines individually to states, and will deal directly with the central government. The Punjab government had also made a similar claim earlier this month.

Mumbai’s civic body, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, which floated global tenders for vaccines on 18 May, also had to extend the last day for submission of bids after getting poor response.

Also read: Delhi govt floats global tender for 1 crore Covid vaccine doses on urgent basis

‘Targeting to vaccinate 1 crore people by 30 June

Sehgal told ThePrint that UP might try to ramp up its vaccine stock for the coming months, but as of now it has enough stock at its disposal.

“We are targeting to give 1 crore doses by 30 June,” he said.

From today, the state is also starting its vaccination drive for everyone above 18 years of age in all 75 districts. Earlier, vaccination was being done in only 23 districts. 

So far, 2 crore people in the state have received their first shot of vaccine, while 35 lakh have got both the doses, Sehgal said.

As of now, UP is getting Covaxin and Coviesheild, developed by Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India, respectively.

Also read: ‘India is Union of States’: SC schools Modi govt on why Centre must buy vaccines & distribute

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