Discussions yet not over between govt, US-based manufacturers for procuring their COVID-19 vaccines: NK Arora


Discussions and negotiations are still not over between the government and US-based COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers for procuring their vaccine, said Dr NK Arora, Chief of National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NTAGI) on Monday, Aug. 2.

“As I understand there are negotiations going on between the government and US-based manufacturers. It is not only Moderna and Pfizer but also Johnson and Johnson involved in the discussion,” he said in an exclusive interview with ANI. It is not certain when these discussions will conclude, he further said.

Dr Arora added that even for donating vaccines to India, the US-based manufacturers have to fulfill paperwork regarding indemnity and liability clauses.

“Even at WHO’s COVAX facility, the issue about indemnity and liability clauses has been raised. The US-based manufacturers have to submit paperwork to donate doses to other countries. Indemnity and liability clauses have to be fulfilled, thus, I am not very certain when that kind of discussion will be over,” he noted.

According to him, the country’s target of completing COVID-19 vaccination of adults by the end of the year does not take into account the availability of US-based vaccines.

“I must emphasize that in our estimation of vaccine availability, and our capability of vaccinating adults by the end of this year does not take into account any of these vaccines. We are waiting for Zydus Cadila’s ZyCoV-D which is the world’s first plasmid DNA vaccine and Moderna’s mRNA-1273. In fact, Sputnik V and Biological E vaccines have committed to providing 30 crore doses by the end of this year,” informed Dr Arora.

Ahmedabad-based Zydus Cadila has submitted data on its three-dose COVID-19 vaccine ZyCoV-D to India’s drug regulator Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) for emergency use authorization (EUA). However, the decision has been under review by the regulator’s Subject Expert Committee (SEC).

“Some more data and analysis have been asked by the expert group and hopefully we should be able to hear back from DCGI’s Subject Expert Committee about these issues. However, all of us are very hopeful that this vaccine will be available,” he said.

Zydus Cadila had on July 1, requested emergency use approval for ZyCoV-D, its three-dose COVID shot – the world’s first plasmid DNA vaccine for human use. If approved it will be the country’s second indigenous vaccine after Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin.