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Pfizer, Moderna refused to sell Covid vaccines directly to Delhi, says Arvind Kejriwal

Delhi has had to largely shut vaccination centres for those in the 18-44 category as vaccines have run out

Written by Mallica Joshi | New Delhi |
Updated: May 24, 2021 6:45:31 pm
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal addresses the media virtually, in New Delhi. (PTI Photo)

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said Monday that vaccine manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna had communicated to them that they will not sell vaccines to states, but will deal only with the government of India.

While many states have issued a global tender for vaccines, Delhi is also in the process of finalising one and has also been talking to manufacturers globally. Kejriwal had said on Sunday that he is personally speaking to manufacturers globally and cost will not be a barrier in procuring vaccines.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia also said Monday that companies like Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have told them that they are in touch with the centre and will not deal with state governments.

“We contacted Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer and they said they are in touch with the Government of India and will not give vaccines to the states. The Centre has asked us to place global tenders but it is also talking to these companies separately. When they asked us to buy from manufacturers in India, we placed orders but the supply is being regulated by the Centre. The Centre puts curbs on how much we can get from private companies. The international manufacturers are saying they are talking to the Centre only. I ask the Centre to show some seriousness since this is a very serious disease,” Sisodia said.

He also flagged the lack of clearances for the vaccines being used internationally.

“America gave approval to Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson in December last year. The Centre has not given approval to any of these yet. Other countries have not only given approval but are also using them. What is the compulsion in India? We are dependent on two companies, and even they are exporting doses. Russia gave approval to Sputnik V in August 2020 and started vaccinating in December. We refused to give approval in 2020 and finally did so in April this year. 68 counties have given approval and are using Sputnik V. UK gave approval to Pfizer in December, We are still sleeping. 85 countries have given the approval to use Pfizer, 46 have given it to Moderna and 41 to Johnson & Johnson. We are still sleeping. Is this a joke? You (Centre) are saying buy vaccines globally, but there is no approval,” he said.

He also said that while other countries had supported manufacturers and pre-ordered, India was lagging behind.

“Across the world, countries kept an eye on vaccine development. They placed advanced procurement orders. By November 2020, US and EU gave orders for 70 crore vaccines. They have enough vaccines for their residents. By January the UK had placed orders for enough vaccines for 70% of its population. Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Serum Institute of India last year but did not invest in them or place orders. Only after April did this happen. The US started investing in March, 2020. Government of India kept sleeping, and is sleeping even now,” Sisodia said.

Delhi has had to largely shut vaccination centres for those in the 18-44 category as vaccines have run out. Earlier Kejriwal had said that the city needs 80 lakh vaccines a month to vaccinate on a war footing. Delhi has an estimated population of 2 crore and wants to complete vaccination in 3 months,

“Vaccines are the most potent weapon against Covid. Delhi vaccinated in a mission mode in hospitals in schools and dispensaries and set up 400 centres of 18-44 age group and 650 for 45+ age group. But because of poor arrangements of centre, sites for 18-44 age group have shut in Delhi. For the 45+ category, only centres where Covishield is being given are functional. And this is not just in Delhi, the entire country is facing this issue because of the poor planning of the Centre. They are responsible for this mess,” Sisodia said.

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