Friday, December 9

State plans to float global tender to import vaccine

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Bengal government is consulting with experts before it floats a global tender to purchase vaccines. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has already declared that she wants all in Bengal to be vaccinated for free.
Experts feel that even if a global tender is floated now, the vaccine supply might be by the end-July or in August.
A senior official said that the Bengal government is interested in importing Sputnik V and is looking for its availability and is also keen on Novovax and Johnson & Johnson’s single dose other than Pfizer’s vaccine. But the Centre must clear the passage as Indian drug regulatory authority has to give the nod, the official said. He added that some of the manufacturers are producing vaccines in such a manner that they can be preserved in normal freezes. Earlier, some vaccines had to be kept at 80°C.

On May 12, Banerjee had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to “speedily import vaccines” to overcome the shortage. Banerjee also said that Bengal is “ready to provide land and support for any manufacturing/franchisee operation for authentic vaccine manufacturing.” The CM’s letter also coincided with a letter to the PM by senior opposition leaders and chief ministers, including Banerjee, who demanded that all vaccines be procured “centrally from all available sources — global and domestic.” “The vaccination process in Bengal had been hit badly due to the inadequate supply and illogical orders by the Centre,” said Sukumar Mukherjee who is part of Bengal government’s health expert team. He said that those, whose second vaccine dose, mostly Covishield, was due from mid May, were unable to get their dose as the Centre changed norms suddenly and made a mandatory gap of 12 weeks, instead of six weeks from the first dose. “The Bengal government might opt for contacting the global vaccine producers through a tender so that the supply of vaccine remains constant and there is no lapse,” said Mukherjee.

Mukherjee said that while the UK announced to reduce the gap between the first and the second dose to eight weeks from 12 weeks, the vaccination process was delayed in India at that time without citing any reason “This contradiction is worrisome,” said Mukherjee, adding, “The Centre did not say whether the delay in vaccination will increase the efficacy.”
With the price range varying, the state government will decide on this only after consulting the vaccine producers. Mukherjee said that each dose of Covishield will cost Rs 1,500, Covaxim will cost Rs 750 and Sputnik V will be Rs 1,000.

Source: Times of India

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