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Mumbai shortlists nine potential vaccine suppliers but there may be a problem

Mumbai’s bid to directly procure one crore vaccines for city residents may face a hurdle even as the administration of India’s financial capital shortlisted nine suppliers for further scrutiny.

“Ten potential suppliers had responded to the global expression of interest. Out of that, one has already withdrawn,” the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation said in its statement. “Documents submitted by the nine suppliers will be scrutinized in the next two-three days.”

Of these, seven have expressed interest in supplying Russian vaccine Sputnik V, while one has offered to provide Sputnik Light Covid vaccine, the civic authority said. Another has shown interest in supplying one of the approved vaccines, it said, without giving details.

Meaning, most of the interested suppliers are banking on the Sputnik V vaccine. That comes when Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd., in a joint statement with Russian Direct Investment, has said that it is the brand custodian of Sputnik V in India and has the sole distribution rights for the first 250 million (25 crore) doses—first and second shot included. The company, which will first import and later manufacture locally, has warned of potential “fraud” by unauthorised individuals offering “fake” procurement deals for Sputnik.

The Mumbai civic corporation, in its statement, said it will examine the business relationship between the interested suppliers and the companies that actually make the vaccines.

The BMC had on May 12 floated the EOI to buy 1 crore Covid-19 vaccines for people living or working within Mumbai’s municipal limits. The final date of submitting the proposal was extended from May 18 to first May 25 and then June 1. The move came after the central government opened inoculation to the 18-44 age group but put the procurement onus on states at a time the nation faces a shortage of jabs.

The BMC had also received a bid for supplying vaccines by Pfizer and AstraZeneca-Oxford (made and marketed in India by the Serum Institute of India as Covishield) but it was withdrawn later.

India has approved three vaccines—Covishield, Covaxin by Bharat Biotech Ltd. and Sputnik V. As of May 31, the BMC has administered more than 30.4 lakh Covishield and over 23.6 lakh doses of Covaxin. BloombergQuint