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Maha to write to Centre as it seeks clarity on global bids for vax supply

After the Maharashtra government received eight responses to its global tenders for supplying Covid-19 vaccines, it now plans to throw the ball in the Centre’s court over engaging with intermediaries
By Swapnil Rawal, Mumbai
UPDATED ON MAY 27, 2021 12:40 AM IST

After the Maharashtra government received eight responses to its global tenders for supplying Covid-19 vaccines, it now plans to throw the ball in the Centre’s court over engaging with intermediaries.

Senior government officials said the state is going to write to the Centre, seeking clarity on whether the companies that showed interest in supplying vaccine doses to Maharashtra are authorised by the company.

On Tuesday, the state received bids for the supply of vaccines manufactured by Pfizer, Sputnik and AstraZeneca.

However, the bids have been submitted by suppliers or middlemen and not the vaccine manufacturers. Senior health department officials said the government’s concern is the authenticity of the proposals as manufacturers including Pfizer and Moderna has clearly stated that they have not appointed any suppliers.

Senior officials said that there are number of queries the state intends to ask the Centre in its letter, including can the state engage with the intermediaries, can it procure AstraZeneca vaccine, which is in a pact with Serum Institute of India

(SII), that manufacturers same vaccine under Covishield

brand.

N Ramaswami, commissioner of health services, said, “We will refer this issue to Government of India. We will write to them, asking if the manufacturers have appointed these companies to supply the vaccine doses, and whether the state government can engage with them. These are complex matters and therefore we need to tread cautiously.”

If the state finds the companies that showed interest to be unqualified, it’ll have to depend on the supply of Sputnik, which, too, will be limited as its domestic manufacturers will have to give 50% to the Centre and remaining 50% stock will be given to states/UTs and private hospitals.

Ramaswami added that the state is trying to get in touch with Russian Direct Investment Fund—the developer of Sputnik V—but so far, they have not responded. The state has got five responses from suppliers of Sputnik, which have quoted a price between Rs800 and Rs2,500, state officials said.

The uncertainty over the vaccination and the slow pace of inoculation is expected to continue until SII and Bharat Biotech can supply enough stock by July. Ramaswami said that they expect to hear from the two companies on the stock it will sell to the state. “We are constantly in touch with Serum and Bharat Biotech for the doses we will procure. We expect to hear from them on the schedule of supply by tomorrow,” he said.

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