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6 firms attend UP Meet on import of vaccines

Six vaccine manufacturers attended a pre-bid meeting convened by Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday to discuss procurement of 40 million Covid-19 jabs, a top state official said on Thursday, adding that the process of floating a global tender was likely to begin in 15 days.

Navneet Sehgal, additional chief secretary (information) in the UP government, said the meeting was attended by Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, Zydus Cadila, Pfizer, Serum Institute of India (SII), Bharat Biotech, and an unnamed Korean company.

Dr Reddy’s is marketing the Sputnik V vaccine in India , Zydus Cadila is developing a Covid-19 vaccine, Pfizer has a popular nRNA vaccine currently used across the world, SII manufacturers Covishield — the name under which which the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is marketed in India — that is the mainstay of the country’s inoculation programme, and Bharat Biotech makes Covaxin, the other vaccine used in India’s drive.

India has so far administered 179 million doses of Covishield and Covaxin. It has granted approval to Sputnik V and has indicated that it will fast-track approval for the Pfizer shot. Imported doses of Sputnik will start being available in India next week, and local production is expected to start in July. Zydus Cadila’s vaccine candidate is under development.

“We expect to float the global tender in about 15 days. We are also making contact with Moderna and Johnson & Johnson,” Sehgal said, alluding to the two other companies whose vaccines have been approved in different countries.

HT reported on Wednesday that Tamil Nadu was the 11th state to opt for global tenders to get vaccines, even as officials in states said it wasn’t clear by when they would receive doses. While states have freedom to float global tenders for acquiring Covid-19 vaccines from any drug manufacturer, they cannot inoculate their citizens with vaccines that have not been approved by the Union government. Several states have asked the Union government to set up a central procurement of vaccine to have the weight of sovereign behind them in negotiating better terms with global vaccine produces.

To be sure, the Centre has said that vaccines approved elsewhere will be approved in India under certain conditions.

After the Centre on April 19 decided to launch the “liberalised and accelerated” third phase of the national immunisation programme to cover the 18-44 age group from May 1, several states such as Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Delhi, Karnataka, Telangana, Bihar and Maharashtra initiated the procurement process of vaccines. The April 19 decision allowed vaccine manufacturers in India to supply 50% of monthly output to states (allocated on the basis of the size of the eligible population in the state) and private hospitals after keeping 50% of doses for the Centre.

In its tender norms, the UP government is likely to specify that the temperature for the storage of the vaccine should be 2-8 degrees Celsius, said additional chief secretary (health and family welfare) Amit Mohan Prasad.

“The bidders have been told that the state government requires six million to eight million doses of vaccine to be supplied every month. The supply has to be initiated within seven days of the release of the purchase order and completed within 30 days. The bidder should have their own coldchain transporting system or should have proper contract with a transporting agent having the facilities to transport the vaccines under cold chain norms from the manufacturing unit to the government warehouses in Varanasi, Meerut, Lucknow, Agra, Gorakhpur, Kanpur, Jhansi, Bareilly and Faizabad (Ayodhya),” he added. Hindustan Times