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Thursday, June 17, 2021

Working for earliest possible import of Pfizer vaccine: V K Paul

Rejecting the notion that the Centre is not doing enough to buy vaccines from abroad, the head of India’s Covid-19 task force said that ‘buying vaccines internationally is not like buying off-the-shelf items’.

Written by Kaunain Sheriff M | New Delhi |
Updated: May 27, 2021 6:35:29 pm
Dr V K Paul heads the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19. (Express Photo: Amit Mehra)

The head of India’s Covid-19 task force on Thursday said that Pfizer has “indicated vaccine availability” of its mRNA vaccine and that both the Indian government and the US firm are “working together for the earliest possible import of the vaccine”.

Dr V K Paul, the chair of National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 (NEGVAC), Thursday released a statement on “myths and facts on India’s vaccination progress”. In his statement, Paul, however, underlined that “vaccines are in limited supply globally, and companies have their own priorities, game-plans, and compulsions in allocating finite stocks”.

In the statement, Paul specifically issued a statement on the ‘myth 1’ that the Centre is not doing enough to buy vaccines from abroad. “The Central Government has remained engaged continuously with all the major international vaccine manufacturers right from mid-2020. Multiple rounds of discussions have happened with Pfizer, J&J & Moderna. Government offered all assistance to have them supply and /or manufacture their vaccines in India. However, it is not that their vaccines are available in free supply. We need to understand that buying vaccines internationally is not similar to buying ‘off the shelf’ items,” Paul said.

“Vaccines are in limited supply globally, and companies have their own priorities, game-plans and compulsions in allocating finite stocks. They also give preference to countries of their origin just as our own vaccine makers have done unhesitatingly for us,” Paul said.

On Pfizer, Paul said: “As soon as Pfizer indicated vaccine availability, the central government and the company are working together for the earliest possible import of the vaccine”.

“As a result of GoI’s efforts, Sputnik vaccine trials got accelerated and with timely approval, Russia has already sent two tranches of vaccines & accomplished tech-transfer to our companies that would start manufacturing very soon. We reiterate our request to all international vaccine makers to come and make in India – for India and for the world,” Paul said.

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