- Authorities attempt an ambitious plan to vaccinate every resident
- Faster vaccinations could help avert a third wave of the coronavirus
- Mumbai has been the epicenter of India's virus outbreak
Mumbai's municipality has received bids to import 10 million Sputnik vaccines and expects more proposals as authorities attempt an ambitious plan to vaccinate every resident of the world's second-most densely packed city within two months.
India's financial capital estimates to spend about 7 billion rupees ($96 million) to buy the shots, Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal told Bloomberg TV in an interview on Wednesday. Faster vaccinations could help avert a third wave of the coronavirus, which could cost the city above 8 billion rupees just to run its temporary hospitals created to tackle a surge in patients.
Mumbai has been the epicenter of India's virus outbreak in both previous waves, though it has received praise for flattening the curve relatively quickly. Last week it became the first city in the country to independently seek to import vaccines as local manufacturers struggle to keep up with demand.
"Once we get 15 million vaccine shots, I plan to vaccinate the entire city in next 60 days and by doing so I am very sure we will be able to stop the third wave from coming," Mr Chahal said.
The three bids received include a proposal from London-based Taliesin International Ltd. and two other companies from Hyderabad which claim authorized distributorship from Sputnik marketer The Russian Direct Investment Fund, Mr Chahal said by phone.
The city needs 10 million shots for vaccinating people aged 18-45 years and another 5 million for older residents.
The import tender, which was due to close May 18, will be extended until May 25 when a final decision will be taken, Mr Chahal said. All large global manufacturers are invited including Pfizer Inc., Moderna Inc., Johnson & Johnson, Serum Institute of India Ltd. and Bharat Biotech Ltd.
About 5% of tests conducted in Mumbai are currently throwing up positive results, down from 31% a month ago. The so-called positivity rate will drop to 2% by the end of May, Mr Chahal said.
India is still reporting an overall positivity rate of about 20%, far higher than the less-than-5% the World Health Organization considers as an indicator that the spread is under control.