Authorities in Mumbai are seeking to import millions of vaccine doses to help avert a third potential coronavirus wave.
The municipal corporation is in talks with the state government to allow it to invite bids from global manufacturers, Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal said in an interview Monday.
"The state government tender might be very huge, like 40 million, and no foreign supplier can match that kind of number, but if I just float 5 million vaccines, bids may come up from two-three companies," he said. "I am working on that and it's a matter of days that we will finalize something."
Mumbai is open to any approved vaccine -- be it Russia's Sputnik, ones from Moderna Inc. and Johnson & Johnson, or the formula from Pfizer. The city will also pay the firms extra to maintain a cold chain or other necessary logistics, Commissioner Chahal said.
India's wealthiest city was among the nation's first epicenters of the coronavirus, but has since seemed to control the spread and is now focused on vaccinating its residents. It has allowed companies and housing societies to hold their own vaccination camps under the supervision of an approved hospital, but a shortage of doses has become a major hurdle.
"Any of 130 private hospitals can send two nurses and one doctor along with an ambulance to any office or housing society premises, they can vaccinate the entire building in two hours and come back, which is kind of de-facto door to door testing," Commissioner Chahal said.
But the city hasn't received a single dose of Bharat Biotech Ltd.'s Covaxin in the last 15 days and less than 50,000 doses of Serum Institute of India Ltd.'s Covishield, which is why appointments at vaccine centers are booked out within seconds of being opened.
"Current method for vaccine-slot booking for people aged 18-44 is in resonance with the extreme shortage of vaccines," Commissioner Chahal said. "You give me 15 million vaccines and we will make it walk-in for all."