Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, World Health Organization (WHO) – Southeast Asia, on July 19, 2021, said that India has been offered 7.5 million doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine through COVAX global vaccine distribution programme.
However, it is unclear when the vaccine doses will arrive in India as the availability is subject to ‘clearance of indemnity issue.’
Moderna’s COVID-19 Vaccine to be available in India by Mid-July
•Last month, Moderna’s mRNA COVID-19 vaccine was to be available at select hospitals across India by July 15.
•In June 2021, US drugmaker Moderna had announced that India has authorized its COVID-19 vaccine for restricted use in an emergency.
•Mumbai-based pharmaceutical company Cipla was granted permission by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) to import Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.
What is the delay in Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine availability in India?
•However, there are ongoing discussions over several issues such as indemnity waiver between the Government of India and the COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers Moderna and Pfizer.
•Dr V K Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog on July 16, 2021, said that the government is holding discussions with both the companies. “It is a process of negotiation and dialogues.”
•Moderna and Pfizer are seeking indemnity clearance which would protect them in case of any adversities resulting from the use of their vaccines.
What is the delay in Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine availability in India?
•Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla on June 22, 2021, had informed that the company is in the final stages of getting approval for its COVID-19 vaccine from the Indian government.
•Despite repeated requests from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), Pfizer has not applied for an emergency use authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine. The company seeks first seeks to get approval for its vaccine and then sign an agreement.
What is COVAX global vaccine distribution programme?
•COVAX is a global vaccine distribution programme that is co-led by Gavi, the coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The programme aims to speed up the development, production, equitable distribution of COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines for every country in the world.
•The target of the programme is to deliver at least two billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2021.