HomeMiscellaneousPfizer vaccine to be available in India by July, COVAXIN production to...

Pfizer vaccine to be available in India by July, COVAXIN production to boost by 10x

On Thursday, India’s Central Govt notified that Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine would most likely be available in the Indian market by July and the company’s request for indemnification is under Govt consideration. Also, Bharat Biotech’s COVAXIN supplies are expected to rise from 10 million (present production) to 100 million by October, it added.

Continous negotiations were held amid the Centre and the Pfizer company regarding this approval. In the health ministry’s daily briefing, the Member of Niti Aayog, Dr. V.K. Paul stated, “We are engaged in talks with Pfizer because they have indicated availability of a certain volume of vaccines in the coming months, possibly beginning in July.”

However, Pfizer has requested for protection against compensation for severe side-effects of its vaccine. The Govt is contemplating company’s indemnity request. Paul added that, “Pfizer has sought indemnity, as they have sought indemnity from all other nations where they have supplied their vaccines.”

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Pfizer said that as per its agreements (till mid-April), it has to provide 1.6 billion doses by 2021. However, it would increase its vaccine production capacity to more than 3 billion doses by the next year. The company holds a capacity to produce 2.5 billion doses in 2021.

According to some reports, the recent negotiations held between Pfizer and the Govt were focused upon supplying 50 million doses of its vaccine to India by September. Further, it would provide vaccines only to the Central Govt. 

Pfizer vaccine’s efficacy

Earlier, the company had told the Government that its COVID vaccine is highly ‘efficacious’ against the strain found in India. Its vaccine has been found suitable in everyone above 12 years of age and can be stored in cold-storage facilities at a temperature of 2-8 degree Centigrade, added the company.

Both the sides actively participated in recent negotiations over the past few weeks. Pfizer CEO and Chairman Albert Bourla had also participated in some of these meetings to resolve certain issues and seek approval of legal indemnity. 

Prior to this, the company had sought usage approvals and indemnification for its vaccine in the US and several other European countries. Hence, it is looking forward to seek this protection for its vaccine in India as well. However, India has not granted such protection to any of the presently used vaccines in the country- Covaxin, Covishield or Sputnik-V.

None of India’s approved vaccines has been cleared for use on citizens below 18 years of age. However by the end of May, Covaxin is expected to begin trials for 2-18 age group.

Pfizer told the Indian Govt to “rely on the 44 authorisations, including WHO approval (to) facilitate emergency use authorisation…”

Data generated from an observational study has found out that the Pfizer vaccine has shown 87.9% efficacy against the strain found in India (named B.1.617.2 variant), said UK’s Public Health England. The study included 26% people of ‘Indian or British Indian’ ethnicity.

Some other factors that lead to accelerating approval to Pfizer’s vaccine are its supply through Central Govt pathway and regulatory requirement for post-approval linking studies.

Earlier, Pfizer had turned down Delhi Government’s request to directly supply it the vaccine, citing its policy which says that the company would only deal with the central government. Similarly, the Moderna company had refused the Punjab Govt request by citing such policies. 

Presently, India is administering the indigenous Covaxin (developed and produced by Bharat Biotech) and the Covishield (developed by AstraZeneca and produced by Pune-based Serum Institute) vaccines to its citizens. Also, Russia’s Sputnik-V vaccine has been approved by the Govt and will soon be rolled out in the Indian market. 

Around 20 crore vaccines have been administered in India until now. However, it has a long way to go, in order to inoculate its 130 crore population completely. The shortage of vaccines has forced several Indian states to slow down their inoculation process. 

Hopefully, the companies along with the Govt are making efforts to boost up vaccine production and accelerate the inoculation drive in the next few months.

Stuti Tripathi
I have keen interest in scientific discoveries and technological advancements. I'm always curious to learn more and more about our galaxies and typically love to read about astronomy.


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