After Pfizer and Moderna, Serum seeks indemnity over COVID-19 vaccine
The Serum Institute of India has requested the Indian government to provide it indemnity from liability in connection with its COVID-19 vaccines, company sources cited by NDTV and The Hindu say. The move comes soon after reports said the central government is considering to provide similar protection to foreign firms like Pfizer and Moderna for their vaccines. Here are more details on this.
'Rules must be same for all'
"If foreign vaccine makers are given indemnity protection, then all vaccine firms in the country, not just the SII, must be given the same. We are hoping the same rules apply to everyone (sic)," Serum Institute's sources told The Hindu.
Serum is the producer of Covishield, India's most prevalent vaccine
The Pune-based Serum Institute manufactures Covishield - the Indian version of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab. It is also currently involved with the trials of at least three more anti-coronavirus vaccines - Novavax's Covovax, nasal vaccine Codagenix, and the SpyBiotech. The company has also sought permission to produce the Russian vaccine Sputnik V - the third and latest approved vaccine in India, according to The Hindu.
What is indemnity from liability?
Indemnity is a form of insurance or financial protection against legal claims that might be made by vaccine beneficiaries if they suffer any severe side effects. In other words, if such claims are made, the government will have to pay compensation and not the company.
US, other nations have already granted legal protection
Legal protection is not a rare phenomenon as far as coronavirus vaccines are concerned - Countries like the United States have already provided indemnity to Pfizer and other companies. Both Pfizer and Moderna have reportedly told the Indian government they are ready to supply vaccines here if indemnity is provided. Pfizer is expected to start supplying five crore vaccine doses to India this July.
Local trials no longer needed for foreign vaccines
Just recently, India's top drug regulator scrapped the requirement of local trials for foreign-made coronavirus vaccines. It has also done away with batch-wise testing of imported vaccines in India. These key decisions are expected to bolster India's dwindling vaccination program, which has been marred by a serious shortage of vaccines over the past couple of months.
India struggling to inoculate its huge population
India is struggling to timely inoculate its population of 1.3 billion amid fears over a dangerous third wave of the coronavirus. While nearly 22 crore doses have been administered till date, just above 3% of the Indian population has been fully vaccinated. Nonetheless, the central government has set a target of vaccinating all Indian adults by the end of this year.