Bharat Biotech says it received no advance payment from Brazil govt for Covaxin
Reacting to Brazil government nixing the Covaxin deal, Bharat Biotech on Wednesday said the company followed all step-by-step procedures and the vaccine price in the international market too was in public knowledge.
As the Brazil government suspends the deal to purchase 20 million doses of Bharat Biotech's Covaxin over allegations of graft in the deal, the Hyderabad-based vaccine maker on Wednesday issued a statement and said as of June 29, the vaccine maker has not received any advance payment from the Brazil government. "In the case of procurement of Covaxin by Brazil, a step-by-step approach was followed towards contracts and regulatory approvals, during the 8-month-long process. EUA received was received on June 4. As of June 29, we haven't received any advance payments nor supplied vaccines to Brazil," the company said in a statement.
"The pricing of Covaxin has been clearly established between $15-20 per dose for supplies to Governments outside India. The pricing for Brazil has also been indicated at $15 per dose," Bharat Biotech said.
The ₹2,400 crore has turned the heat up for the Jair Bolsonaro government as it was alleged that the government struck a deal with Bharat Biotech to acquire about 2 crore doses of Covaxin at a higher price, and at a time when the vaccine was not approved by the regulator of Brazil. Covaxin received emergency use authorisation in Brazil in the first week of June, though the negotiation process has been going on for the last seven-eight months.
Here's what happened
> Brazil Health ministry official Luis Ricardo Miranda who acted as a whistleblower in this case raised suspicion about the deal as Pfizer was reportedly offering Brazil its Covid-19 vaccine at a lower price.
> Miranda looks after the imports of the health ministry and when he had to approve an import licence, he refused to do so as the company mentioned in the invoice was not Bharat Biotech, the company with which the deal was signed, but some Singapore-based Madison Biotech.
> Luis Ricardo Miranda also told senators that he was under pressure to clear the deal.
> Bolsonaro defended the allegation saying that there was no corruption as the government did not pay any money and did not receive any vaccine.
> Covaxin was granted emergency use approval on June 5. Bharat Biotech also corroborated Bolsonaro's statement that no vaccine has been sent and no money has been received.
> Bharat Biotech has, however, said that Madison Biotech is its global sales and marketing arm.
> An investigation into the deal began in April.
> Brazil's newspapers reported that Bharat Biotech had initially quoted a price of $1.34 per dose, the government agreed to pay $15 per shot.
> Whistleblower Miranda and his brother who is a lawmaker met Bolsonaro “The President looked me in the eye and said, ‘This is serious’,” adding, “'If I interfere with this thing, you know what kind of shit it’s going to stir up. This must be so-and-so’s deal.’” the whistleblower has told the investigators.
> Bharat Biotech said it followed all processes in Brazil as in other countries while the price of the vaccine in the international market was made public beforehand.
Explaining the process of how a country can procure vaccines from Bharat Biotech, the vaccine maker said that the company first received a letter of intent, following which it applues for emergency use authorisation in the country. Once the vaccine gets approval, the health ministry of that country releases a purchase order. Even if the order is placed before the approval, the procurement happens only after the approval.
Once the purchase order is released, the company raises a Pro Forma Invoice based on which the ministry makes the payment. Once the payment is received, the company proceeds to supply the vaccines. In this case, the company received no money from the health department of Brazil, Bharat Biotech said.