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Odisha asks centre to take charge of procurement of vaccines by global manufacturers

Health Minister Naba Kishore Das writes to central government in the wake of limited response to Odisha's global tender for vaccines.

Written by Aishwarya Mohanty | Bhubaneshwar |
June 1, 2021 5:33:10 pm
Brazil approves imports of Russia's Sputnik V, India's Covaxin vaccinesBrazilian health regulator Anvisa on Friday voted to approve imports of Russia's Sputnik V and India's Covaxin COVID-19 vaccines, but with conditions on both. (File)

Odisha Health Minister Naba Kishore Das on Tuesday wrote to the centre proposing a national-level procurement of Covid-19 vaccines of global manufactures instead of procurement by individual states. This comes four days after the Odisha government had extended the deadline of its global tender till June 4.

The state government on May 14 had floated a global tender for procurement of 3.8 crore doses to inoculate its people and has said that there was limited response during the pre-bid stage.

“We need to be prepared for a possible third wave of infection. Most experts advise that vaccination is the main weapon to protect our people from subsequent waves of the pandemic and we need to scale up vaccination at the earliest,” Das wrote, in his letter to Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan.

Acknowledging that the state is facing unresponsiveness of vaccine manufacturers, Das said, “It seems that the global vaccine manufacturers like Pfizer and Moderna are concerned about indemnity related issues among others. Secondly, they are willing to deal with federal-level central procurement only, at this stage. Global vaccine manufacturers will be requiring the central government statutory clearances for supplying to the state.”

“Since the above are in the domain of the union government it might be faster and economical if the procurement of global vaccines are made at the country level rather than by individual States,” he said.

Das said Odisha which was vaccinating 2 lakh people per day during early April has been able to vaccinate only 60,000-70,000 people per day now due to supply constraints. The state has a capacity of vaccinating 3 lakh people per day, he added.

“After the union government allowed the states to procure vaccine directly from the permitted vaccine manufacturers for the 18-45 years age group, we immediately placed an order for 20 lakh doses of Covishield with Serum Institute of India (SII) and 10.34 lakh doses of Covaxin with Bharat Biotech. However, so far, they have only supplied 5,78,480 of Covishied and 1,65,490 doses of Covaxin respectively,” Das wrote.

“This is quite inadequate in view of the huge demand for vaccines across the state. Looking at the supply problem, Odisha floated a global tender for the procurement of vaccines. However, there has been a limited response to the tender as observed during the pre-bid stage. SII and Bharat biotech have not participated in the pre-bid meeting,” he added.

With the approval of the state cabinet, Odisha has also amended its global tender which includes liberal conditions for manufactures concerning performance, security penalties, advance payment etc.

He further proposed that states may be given the flexibility to design and decide on the distribution of vaccines taking local factors like internet connectivity into consideration. He also put forth Odisha’s intent to vaccinate students of class XII and their families on a priority basis.

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