Bhubaneswar, Jun 1 (PTI) Apparently unable to find suitable bidders for its global tenders to procure COVID-19 vaccines from leading manufacturers in the world, the Odisha government on Tuesday sought the Centre's statutory clearance for the purpose as demanded by the companies.
It seems that global vaccine manufacturers like Pfizer and Moderna are concerned about indemnity related issues among others and they are willing to deal with federal-level central procurement only at this stage, Odisha Health Minister N K Das wrote to Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan.
Global vaccine manufacturers will require the central government's statutory clearance for supply to the states, Das said.
'Since the above are in the domain of the Union Government, it might be faster and economical if the procurement of global vaccines is made at the country-level rather than by individual states,' Das said in the letter.
There have been media reports that other states that have floated tenders are also facing non-response of vaccine manufacturers, he said.
'In view of the urgency of the issue we look forward to early action in this regard and assure our continued cooperation to defeat Covid-19,' the letter read.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is committed to providing Covid-19 vaccines free of cost to people and the state will bear the cost, he said.
The state had floated a global tender for procurement of vaccines but there has been a limited response to the tender as observed during the pre-bid stage.
Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech, makers of Covishield and Covaxin vaccines respectively, have not participated in the pre-bid meeting, Das said adding that it is understood that at their present capacity, they will not be able to provide vaccines in large scale to states and there is an urgent need to increase their capabilities.
Keeping in view the experience of some states which did not receive any bids and based on the market conditions and short supply of vaccines, Odisha had floated a flexible global tender with approval of the state Cabinet, which includes liberal conditions with respect to performance security, penalties, advance payment and others.
'We have also extended the dateline and are pursuing with the potential bidders,' the state minister said in his letter to Vardhan.
Das also pointed out that after the Centre allowed the states to procure vaccines directly from the permitted vaccine manufacturers for the 18-45 years age group, we immediately placed an order of 2220 lakh doses of Covishield with SII and 1034 lakh doses of Covaxin with Bharat Biotech.
'However, they have so far supplied only 5,78,480 doses of Covishield and 1,65,490 doses of Covaxin respectively. This is quite inadequate in view of the huge demand for vaccinations across the state.' Odisha has so far vaccinated 61,06,415 people with at least one dose of vaccine, he said.
Meanwhile, the head of Odisha's Directorate of Medical Education and Training, Dr CBK Mohanty, said that one cannot rule out the possibility of a third wave of the pandemic.
'The third wave of the virus has not arrived in many countries. However, we cannot guarantee that it won't come.
Hence, we must be prepared for it,' he said.
On the Odisha situation, he said that the state's COVID-19 trajectory shows a downward trend and there has been no doubling of positive cases in recent time. Though the infection spread quickly in the second wave, now the situation is showing a downward trend.
Mohanty said that for the last couple of days, Odisha's single-day spike remains between 8,000 and 10,000.
On the increasing fatality ratio, he said that most of the patients who died of the disease breathed their last after nearly 14 days of infection. People who are dying now were infected about a fortnight ago.
Gradually death rate will also come down along with the low infection rate, he said. PTI AAM NN NN