All US-based vaccine makers are insisting on indemnity and liability clauses and India's reluctance to meet them is slowing down their entry in the market, NK Arora, head of the government's vaccine panel told NDTV yesterday. He, however, revealed that the country's plan to vaccinate all eligible adults by December does not depend on foreign vaccines.
Dr Arora, however, indicated that the government would have reconsidered its stance on indemnity if the vaccine makers were willing to provide a larger amount of vaccines -- like 100 or 200 million doses.
Pfizer, he said, has offered only 70 million doses -- a tiny fraction of the 135 crore doses India needs by December. Moderna, he said, offered only 7.5 million doses, “which will be insufficient even for Saket (in south Delhi)”.
Earlier today, it became known that Johnson & Johnson pulled out its proposal seeking an accelerated approval for local trials, though the firm said it is still in talks with the Indian government, “exploring how best to accelerate our ability to deliver our COVID-19 vaccine to India".
“The overall issue is that for the US vaccine manufacturers Pfizer, Moderna, J&J -- one of the requirements they have kept is what they call the paperwork and it is indemnity and liability related clauses which has to be met by the recipient country,” said Mr Arora, describing the indemnity clause as a “major hurdle”.
This would mean the vaccine maker cannot be sued in the case of any adverse event.
India has been having discussions with the firms. With Pfizer, despite talks since January, the paperwork has not been submitted. Johnson and Johnson submitted the papers and then withdrew then, he added.
Mr Arora also said the amount of drugs these US-based vaccine makers are offering is not large, citing the case of the Pfizer vaccine.
It is because of this, and the indemnity clause, the foreign vaccines have not been factored in while drawing up the supply plans for the December deadline.
India, he said, needs to look at its own “industry's well-being” as the biggest vaccine manufacturer. “2022 onwards, India can be a major vaccine supplier to the rest of the world,” he added.