Anti-graft rules hamper yellow fever vaccine production

 A government rule meant for checking corruption has led to the shortage of yellow fever vaccines in India since the last few months.

The government-owned Central Research Institute (CRI), Kasauli, was the largest supplier of yellow fever vaccines, required by travellers to African and South American countries. But the drier of the CRI’s manufacturing machine developed a major snag more than a year ago and needed repair.

“We were manufacturing 40,000 vials annually against the total demand of 1,20,000. The rest of the demand is met through imports. But a crucial segment of the yellow fever manufacturing unit is out of order for one and a half years. There has been no manufacturing of the vaccine at all in the institute since then,” said CRI Officiating Director S Kutty.

When CRI floated tenders for repairing the machine, only one company responded creating a single-vendor situation that is forbidden in the government.

Since general financial rules did not permit processing “single vendor” tender, special permissions were to be accorded for repairing it, sources told Deccan Herald. This took a few months by which existing stocks were depleted.

After obtaining the approval a fresh tender was issued with a July 27 deadline. Once the tender is processed, the CRI machine will be repaired and indigenous production of yellow fever vaccine will resume. The institute has enough raw material. To replenish the shortage, the Health Ministry ordered 2.75 lakh dosage of the vaccine, which is expected in July. The director-general of health services, too, procured 60,000 dosages of the vaccine from a leading supplier to take care of any emergency.

Ministry officials said shortage is mostly in Mumbai and Kolkata. Government outlets in Delhi including Ram Manohar Lohiya hospital has adequate stock. The vaccine is also available in the private market, but the cost is higher.

While the imported vaccine costs between Rs 2,500-3,000, it costs Rs 150 for the one manufactured by CRI.

Comments (+)