Dr Paul was heading the initiative of negotiating with these three vaccine makers on behalf of the central government. Despite the demands, he said, the government tried to find more ways for these companies to bring the vaccines to India.
In a first such public discussion, Dr VK Paul, member of Niti Aayog, said on Friday that Pfizer’s mRNA Covid-19 vaccine could not be brought to India as the pharmaceutical giant demanded indemnification and sovereign immunity waiver, while Moderna, too, insisted on indemnity clause.
Indemnity would have meant no responsibility on the pharmaceutical giants in case of any mishap or adverse effects of their first-generation vaccine. Also, sovereign immunity waiver would give the firm the right to access national assets to make any pay-offs for damages.
Dr Paul was heading the initiative of negotiating with these three vaccine makers on behalf of the central government. Despite the demands, he said, the government tried to find more ways for these companies to bring the vaccines that first made headlines across the globe, as hope against fighting the pandemic.
Addressing the audience during a panel discussion, Dr Paul said: “Moderna was demanding indemnification, Pfizer was asking for both indemnity clause and sovereign immunity waiver.”
He explained that the Centre had in multi-level talks invited the three vaccine-makers — Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — to collaborate with Indian companies to drive research and development activities and start manufacturing.
“We were told they will consider our invitation in the third quarter of July 2021,” Dr Paul said, adding, “J&J agreed and collaborated with an Indian firm to start manufacturing their vaccine.”
Union minister of health and family welfare Mansukh Mandaviya, who was sharing the stage with Dr Paul, further explained how the central government’s efforts to convince the foreign vaccine-makers strengthened the idea of developing an indigenous vaccine.
Both the officials said despite strong clauses, the companies had very little quantity of vaccine doses to offer. “While the bigger company was offering us just 50 million or 5 crore vaccines for a price of $7, the other offered 70 lakh doses.”
Pfizer is a bigger company than Moderna, as hinted by Dr Paul without naming them.
He said that India was ready to open the door to foreign vaccine-makers and eased out rules on clinical trials on their demand.
Mandaviya and Dr Paul were speaking at the launch of ‘A Nation To Protect — Leading India Through The Covid Crisis’.