Uttarakhand’s global tender for Covid vaccine draws a blank; deadline extended
The Uttarakhand government has extended the deadline for Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers to respond to its global tender to buy the life-saving shots by about a week due to the absence of a response from any manufacturer. The first deadline for the tender floated on May 15 expired on May 25 and has been extended, a senior state government official said on Wednesday.
“As no manufacturer participated in the tender process till the deadline of May 25, we have extended it till May 31,” Uttarakhand’s director general health, Dr Tripti Bahuguna, said.
Several states floated global tenders after the Centre abruptly changed its vaccine procurement approach on April 21 and told states that they would have to get the vaccines from the manufacturers to vaccinate people in the 18-44 age group. The Centre has committed to continue supplying vaccines to states for people above the age of 45 and receives 50% of the vaccines produced by the country’s vaccine manufacturers.
The change in policy has been severely criticised by opposition-ruled states.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday said US pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Moderna have told the Aam Aadmi Party government that they will deal only with the central government, and not sell Covid-19 vaccines individually to states.
“We hope the manufacturers will participate in the bidding process to enable us to place an order in the global market to procure vaccines,” a health department official said.
When Uttarakhand was firming up the plan to issue a global tender, the state’s top bureaucrat chief secretary Om Prakash sounded optimistic that the global tender would help tide over the vaccine shortage.
“A committee has been formed in this regard and in the next two months, we will import 20 lakh COVID vaccines. We are also talking to the Centre continuously in this regard”, Om Prakash said on May 12, pointing that the hill state was allocated just 1% of the total vaccines procured by the central government. “So, we are left with one option to import the vaccines.”
On May 15 when the global tender was issued, Uttarakhand health secretary Amit Singh Negi said the government will try to import “Covishield and Sputnik V, which are among the three vaccines in our country which have got the Centre’s regulatory approvals”.
Of the total requirement of 50 lakh doses, the state has already placed orders for 25 lakh doses for Covishield and about 2.5 lakh Covaxin doses in the country. The state government has decided to fund vaccination of people in the 18-44 age group at a cost of ₹450 crore.