'Legal protection must,' says Gavi as Moderna, Pfizer still await India's nod
Pfizer and Moderna doses through World Health Organization's vaccine alliance Gavi have reached Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. But in India, the issue is still stuck at the question of indemnity, or legal protection, as the government has not yet decided to extend legal protection to foreign companies, as that would raise similar demands from Indian vaccine makers as well. "Our team is in continuous dialogue with Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson to discuss and address various issues including the issue of indemnity," Bharati Pravin Pawar said in Parliament on Tuesday.
According to a Reuters report, Gavi authorities said that legal protections for vaccine suppliers were mandatory. "All facility participants must have signed indemnity agreements with the manufacturers in question in order to receive doses through COVAX – which would also be true for doses received via bilateral deals," a Gavi spokesperson said in an email to Reuters. India is also a participant in the Gavi alliance.
When will Moderna, Pfizer, J&J vaccines will arrive in India?
The government had earlier announced that vaccines that are already recognised by WHO and similar other authorities of other countries won't have to undergo local trials. Moderna applied for permission to the Drug Controller General of India which was granted but Pfizer and J&J did not yet apply.
Attributing to government sources, Reuters reported that Moderana's Indian partner Cipla had offered to shoulder some legal responsibilities which Moderna rejected. "The government cannot give indemnity to anyone. The government is saying domestic companies can give indemnity on behalf of their foreign partners," Reuters said quoting sources.
It has been one month since Moderna was okayed by the Indian drug controller, but the United States is yet to receive a green signal from India, which is stuck over the issue of legal protection. The foreign vaccine manufacturers do not want to be dragged to court in case of any post-vaccination adverse effect. But India has not yet extended this protection to any vaccine maker.