Top government officials are believed to have negotiated availability of these vaccines in a series of meetings with senior Pfizer executives with the main hurdle being the firm’s insistence of indemnity that will shield it from legal action in India. While the nature of an agreement on this contentious issue is not yet clear, senior officials said the issue and other matters will be made clear in due course.
The vaccines will be available for purchase by government only for its Covid immunisation programme. Pfizer vaccines are fairly expensive but there is a growing demand for expanding the pool of vaccines available for the population in addition to the shots being made in India.
State governments like UP, Maharashtra and others have announced that they are floating global tenders for vaccine makers to sell their shots here. However, there are not too many free stocks available and the results of this exercise need to be seen even as officials said they will work with states to see what best can be done.
The current surge of the Covid pandemic in India has sharpened the demand for mass vaccinations.
The European Medicines Agency on Wednesday said the mRNA vaccines approved by it would be able to fight the new variant detected in Maharashtra. “EMA is monitoring the data on the Indian variant very closely. We are seeing promising evidence that mRNA vaccines will be able to neutralise this variant,” it said. The EMA has authorised Pfizer, Moderna, Astra Zeneca and J&J vaccines for the continent.
While the US still doesn’t allow Pfizer or Moderna vaccines being produced there to be exported as long as Americans need it, European manufacturing centres are probably going to be the source for the Pfizer vaccines that India intends to buy.