India's Pfizer, Moderna Covid shot deals hit roadblock

India's Pfizer, Moderna Covid-19 vaccine shot deals hit roadblock

Cost and manufacturing capacity remain sticking points in the deals

Representative image. Credit: Reuters Photo

The Centre is likely to vaccinate about 300 million Indians against Covid-19 with indigenous vaccines as the government is losing hope of sealing deals with American vaccine manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna after negotiations hit roadblocks, according to a report by Hindustan Times.

Officials in the know informed the publication that doubts about Pfizer's capacity to manufacture a large number of doses for India exist after it received orders from US, UK, EU, Mexico, Canada among other countries. “From our discussion, it seems Pfizer might not have the required capacity to address India’s demand,” an anonymous source told the news coronavirus.

The subject expert committee of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation or CDSCO, the authority that examines applications for new vaccines asked Pfizer to submit its application couple of weeks ago, but the drug major requested for more time to fill in its application for an emergency use authorisation.

Despite delays in submitting an application, Pfizer is in touch with NAGVAC, the Centre's expert committee on vaccine administration, a senior official told the website. “But any co-production in India would also entail a fresh round of trials in this country as per our drug laws. And that would mean additional costs,” the person added.

Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine requires specialised logistics and cold-storage solutions to transport and store the vaccine at -70 degree Celsius. The American major's Covid-19 vaccine would almost cost much more than alternate vaccines such as those made by Sputnik, Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India.