The Indian government on Tuesday decided to fast-track the process of emergency approvals of Covid-19 vaccines that have been granted emergency use authorization (EUA) in foreign countries. But though the Centre may have opened an express entry route for foreign-made vaccines developed by Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson to enter India, the global commitments of these companies and the time they would take to comply to these internationally, may lead to delays in their entry into Indian market.
According to a statement by the Health Ministry, “This decision will facilitate quicker access to such foreign vaccines by India and would encourage imports including import of bulk drug material, optimal utilization of domestic fill and finish capacity, etc, which will, in turn, provide a fillip to vaccine manufacturing capacity and total vaccine availability for domestic (use).”
The pharma companies have already committed a large chunk of vaccines to the US as well as the EU.
Pfizer has received US$2 billion from the US to deliver vaccines to the country. The company is in the process of supplying 600 million doses to the US by July this year. Pfizer also has to supply 500 million doses to the European Union by the end of 2021.
Pfizer in an official statement said, “We have noted the recent announcement with regard to the regulatory pathway for global vaccines. We remain committed to continuing our engagement with the Government towards making the Pfizer- BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine available for use in the Government’s immunization program in the country.”
Vaccine commitments for Moderna include delivering 300 million doses to the US, 150 million doses to the EU by the end of this year, 50 million doses to Japan, and roughly 50 million doses to Canada and South Korea.
The company has also received millions of dollars from the US government to meet these commitments at a steadfast pace.
MODERNA IN TALKS WITH TATA GROUP?
In India, sources have said that Moderna has been in talks with the Tata group to bring the vaccine to India. There hasn’t been any official confirmation from the Tata group on this matter yet.
A government official said, “(It is) difficult to comment on TATA. It’s their mutual decision. Talks are continuously going on with Moderna. Hopefully, they will decide to come to India.”
While the United States has ordered a bulk of supplies from Moderna and Pfizer, both companies have to comply with their commitments to at least more than 10 countries as well.
JOHNSON & JOHNSON ALREADY ON ITS WAY?
As for J&J, sources confirmed that the company is looking to file for an emergency use authorization to India’s drug regulator soon. Sources have said that J&J has partnered in Indian firm Biological E Ltd and is currently in talks with the government on the pricing of the vaccine.
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