Pfizer's vaccine works against B.1.617 variant, firm tells Indian government
Pfizer has told the Indian government that its coronavirus vaccine shows "high effectiveness" on the COVID-19 variant prevalent in India as well as on people of Indian ethnicity or nationality. It gave that assurance in an attempt to seek fast-track approval for its vaccine in India. The variant in question is B.1.617, said to be behind India's devastating second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
'Vaccine suitable for all aged 12 or above'
Pfizer also told the government that its vaccine is safe for everyone aged 12 years or above, and it can be stored for one month at a temperature ranging between two-eight degree Celsius, according to sources cited by PTI. "Recent data points confirm the high effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine 2-dose regimen against SARS-CoV-2 variants, and among individuals of Indian ethnicity," the firm said.
Pfizer in talks to send 5 crore doses to India
However, officials at Pfizer have also sought various relaxations from the Indian government in lieu of an agreement to supply five crore vaccine doses to India between July and October. "The current situation in India, and across the world, is not 'business as usual,' and we must not respond to it with processes as usual too," Pfizer reportedly communicated to the government.
What are the relaxations sought by Pfizer?
There are several key relaxations that Pfizer has sought in meetings it held with the Indian government officials. One of them is that the company would supply doses through a central government channel. Further, it wants indemnification or protection from the government against compensation claims made in case of any post-inoculation adverse events. However, the company is considering surveillance of the first 100 subjects.
Pfizer, Moderna refused to sell vaccines directly to states
Last week, Pfizer, and Moderna - another American pharmaceutical giant - were approached by the Delhi government in a bid to buy vaccines directly for the city. However, both the companies rejected that offer, citing official policy to deal only with central governments, Delhi's CM had said. Earlier, the Punjab government had also said it was refused by Moderna in a similar fashion.
India administers over 20 crore vaccine doses
India has administered more than 20 crore vaccine doses so far, the government says, becoming only the second country to do so after the US. But its vaccination drive has drastically slowed down over the past few weeks due to a shortage of doses as flagged by several states. Slightly above 3% of the Indian population has been fully vaccinated as yet.
Which all vaccines are being used in India?
India has thus far given approval to three vaccines - the indigenously developed COVAXIN, Oxford-AstraZeneca's Covishield, and the Russia-made Sputnik V vaccine. Separately, COVAXIN trials on the 2-18 age group are expected to begin in June.