30 Jun 2021: Bharat Biotech denies wrongdoing in $324mn COVAXIN deal with Brazil
Hyderabad-based pharmaceutical company Bharat Biotech denied any wrongdoing on its part after Brazil suspended a $324 million contract for doses of its COVID-19 vaccine COVAXIN. Brazil suspended the deal over allegations of irregularities, which are now being investigated. Bharat Biotech said Wednesday that it followed a step-by-step protocol toward its contracts and regulatory approvals with Brazil, denying the possibility of any irregularities.
Statement: 'Step-by-step approach followed toward contract during 8-month-long process'
Bharat Biotech said in a statement, "In the specific case of procurement of COVAXIN by the Ministry of Health, Brazil, since the first meetings during Nov 2020 until June 29, a step-by-step approach has been followed towards contracts, and regulatory approvals, during this eight-month-long process." Bharat Biotech was granted the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) on June 4, the company said.
Fact: Didn't receive any advance payment till yesterday: Bharat Biotech
Bharat Biotech said, "As of June 29, Bharat Biotech has not received any advance payments nor supplied any vaccines to MOH Brazil. Bharat Biotech has followed a similar approach towards contracts, regulatory approvals, and supplies in several countries worldwide, where COVAXIN is being supplied successfully."
Context: Brazilian President draws flak for irregularities in deal
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is facing allegations of irregularities in a deal for the procurement of 20 million COVAXIN doses. Federal prosecutors have launched a probe into the comparatively high prices, expedited talks, and pending regulatory approvals for the deal signed in February. The fact that the invoice for advance payments was raised in the name of Singapore-based Madison Biotech also drew flak.
Counter arguments: 'Recent news reports misrepresented COVAXIN procurement process'
In its statement, Bharat Biotech countered the allegations, stating that Madison Biotech is its global sales and marketing arm. The company said news reports over the past few weeks "misrepresented" the procurement process for COVAXIN in Brazil and other nations. The company said it followed a common process that is widely accepted and established in the industry.
Fact: COVAXIN price fixed at $15-20 per dose for foreign countries
Further, the company said that the price of COVAXIN had been fixed between $15-20 per dose for foreign countries. "Bharat Biotech has received advance payments from several other countries at the above price points, with supplies in process, pending approvals," the statement said.
Other remarks: Bharat Biotech also highlighted its 'large portfolio'
Bharat Biotech also said that it had tied up with Precisa Medicamentos for regulatory submissions, distribution, insurance, and Phase III clinical trials. The company also sought to highlight that it had a "large portfolio of 20 products" with exports to over 123 counties and over 4 billion vaccine doses delivered worldwide. The company aimed to "dispel any notion or implication of any wrongdoing whatsoever."
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Also see: Bharat Biotech submits COVAXIN phase-3 trial data, review meet today
Bharat Biotech reduces COVAXIN price to Rs. 400 for states
SII, Bharat Biotech ensure 'smooth roll out' of vaccines globally
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