15 May 2021: India may buy 50mn Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doses: Details here
At a time when India is facing an acute shortage of COVID-19 vaccines, the Centre is in "high-level" discussions with American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, which is likely to sell 50 million doses of its vaccine in India by the third quarter of this year.
Top Indian Government officials have been discussing the availability of vaccines with senior executives at Pfizer over several meetings.
Details: Pfizer's insistence on indemnity seems to be the main hurdle
The current negotiations between the Centre and Pfizer are likely to find a successful conclusion, reported Times of India.
However, the main hurdle is Pfizer insisting on indemnity that protects it against any legal action and liabilities in India resulting from any side-effects of its vaccines. But, according to Economic Times, both parties are close to finding a solution to the issue of indemnity.
Centre's move: Demand for vaccines against COVID-19 rising in India
Reports say that Pfizer's vaccine doses against COVID-19 will be available for purchase by the Centre only for its COVID-19 vaccination program.
Although the company's vaccines are quite expensive, the government seems to be considering buying them as the demand for expanding the number of COVID-19 vaccines available for the people in the country has increased.
Manufacturing: Pfizer doses for India likely to be produced in Europe
However, the US still does not allow for COVID-19 vaccines being manufactured by Pfizer or Moderna in the country to be exported; it will not permit the exports as long as there is a domestic requirement for the vaccines.
Hence, the vaccine manufacturing centers based in Europe are likely to produce the Pfizer vaccines that the Indian Government intends to procure from the company.
The EMA: Vaccines using mRNA technology effective against new Indian variant: EMA
Meanwhile, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) recently said the mRNA vaccines it has authorized—including Pfizer's—can fight against the new Indian coronavirus variant.
"EMA is monitoring the data on the Indian variant very closely. We are seeing promising evidence that mRNA vaccines will be able to neutralize this variant," it said.
So far, EMA approved Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca/Oxford, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines for Europe.
Vaccine shortage: Many Indian states decide to float global tenders for vaccines
Notably, the development comes at a time when India is running out of vaccines to protect people against COVID-19 as a deadly second wave—amid warnings of a more dangerous third wave—devastates the country.
Since there is high demand and an acute shortage of vaccines, at least 10 states have decided to issue global tenders for procuring vaccines from international vaccine makers to inoculate people.
Also see: Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine to be available next week: Centre
COVID-19: Many states rush to import vaccines amid acute shortage
India's COVID-19 vaccination drive, registration, priority beneficiaries: Everything to know
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