When will Pfizer, Moderna vaccines be available in India?


Moderna has been expected to launch a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine in India in 2022 and the company is in talks with Cipla among other Indian firms, sources informed on May 25, 2021.

Another US giant Pfizer is ready to offer 5 crores shots of its COVID-19 vaccine in 2021, however, the company wants significant regulatory relaxations including indemnification.

While the Indian authorities have been informed by Moderna that it does not have surplus vaccines to share in 2021, there are also limited prospects of Johnson & Johnson exporting its jabs from the United States to other countries in the near future.

High-level meetings to discuss vaccine availability:

Cabinet Secretary chaired two rounds of high-level meetings last week on the availability of the COVID-19 vaccines in the global as well as the domestic market.

The meeting was held as it was felt that there is a need to procure the jabs at a time when the country is reeling under the second wave of pandemic and a widening gap between the supply and requirement of vaccines.

The meeting was attended by the officials from Niti Aayog, Ministry of External Affairs, Law Ministry, Department of Biotechnology, and Health Ministry.

When Modern Vaccine will be available in India?

During the discussion on the Moderna vaccine in the meeting, it was informed that Moderna does not have surplus vaccines to share in 2021 and that the company plans of launching its single-dose vaccine for the Indian domestic market in the year 2022.

For the distribution of the vaccine, the firm is already in discussion with Cipla as well as other Indian companies.

It has also been learned that Cipla has expressed interest in procuring 5 crore doses of Moderna vaccine for 2022 and has also requested confirmation from the Central Government regarding the regulatory requirements/policy regime.

The Ministry of Health has also been asked to take a decision on Cipla’s request regarding the support required by the firm in the procurement of Moderna Vaccines.

Pfizer in India: When to expect the vaccine in the Indian market?

The US Pharma giant, Pfizer has indicated that 5 crore doses of vaccines will be available in India in 2021- 1 crore in July, 1 crore in August, 2 crores in September, and 1 crore in October.

The firm has also clarified that it will deal only with the Government of India and that the payment for the vaccines will have to be made by GOI to Pfizer India.

The Union Government will also be making its own arrangement for the channelization of the procured vaccines in the domestic market.

Pfizer seeks relaxations in regulatory regime:

Pfizer has asked the Central Government for certain relaxations in the regulatory regime. It includes the relaxation in the requirement of post-approval bridging trials and dispensing the requirement of testing Pfizer vaccines in the Central Drugs Laboratory.

Pfizer has also done similar arrangements with other countries in the world and seeing the current pandemic situation, an overall view might be taken to indemnify the company by the Indian government.

However, as per the officials, similar demands can also be made by the other countries, in case a view is taken to indemnify Pfizer.

It has been suggested that a decision on the issue of Pfizer can soon be taken and that the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 may hold a meeting immediately on these issues.

Why India should consider indemnifying Pfizer?

As per Pfizer, around 116 nations including the USA have signed the indemnification document.

Also considering the fact that over 14.7 crore doses of Pfizer have been administered all over the world without any significant reports of adverse effects, a view needs to be considered to indemnify the pharma giant in order to supplement the availability of vaccines in India.

Will states be unable to procure directly from Moderna and Pfizer?

In response to the question of states being unable to directly procure vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer, the Joint Secretary of Health Ministry, Luv Aggarwal stated that whether it’s Moderna and Pfizer, at the central level, the government has been coordinating with them.

He added that the order book of both Pfizer and Moderna is full so it also depends on their surplus and how much they can provide to India. The firms will come back to the Center and the government will further help in facilitation to states.

COVID-19 vaccines in India:

Currently, India has been using two ‘made in India’ vaccines- Covaxin and Covishield- to vaccinate its billion-plus population.

Ever since the largest vaccination drive was launched by India in mid-January 2021, 20 crore doses have already been administered.

Indian Government also gave its approval to the third vaccine which is Russia’s Sputnik V and is currently being used on a smaller scale in the country.

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