Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said that the Union government should work out the logistics and distribution strategy for making the coronavirus vaccine developed by drug manufacturer Pfizer available to all Indians.
“GOI has to define a vaccine distribution strategy and how it will reach every Indian,” Gandhi tweeted. He also had attached screenshot of experts suggesting that the vaccine might not become available in India due to logistical shortcomings.
On Monday, American pharmaceutical firm Pfizer and German biotechnology company BioNTech announced that their coronavirus vaccine was more than 90% effective in phase three clinical trials.
Meanwhile a Pfizer spokesperson told Business Standard that the company was “exploring opportunities” to make the vaccine available in India.
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Tuesday said that the government has been in talks with the US-based drug maker, but refused to share further details. “We cannot reveal the specifics of our conversations with Pfizer... when it reaches finality, we will share with you,” he said.
He also said that the national expert group on vaccine administration is in dialogue with all manufacturers, and that India is capable of strengthening its cold chain requirements for the vaccine.
Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna are among the front runners in the global race to produce a vaccine to fight the infection. Eleven vaccines, including four in the United States, are in late-stage trials, according to The New York Times.
India has not yet signed a deal for a coronavirus vaccine so it is unclear when it will be available for use in the country, despite some leaders promising it will be available from as early as January. Last month, the Bharatiya Janata Party even promised free vaccination to everyone in Bihar as a poll promise.
Availability of the vaccine in India will be subject to approval by domestic regulators, and the Indian government agreeing to purchase them. So far, many other nations including the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Australia, and Israel have made deals to buy millions of doses of the vaccines.
India on Wednesday recorded 44,281 new coronavirus cases, pushing the tally in the country to 86,36,011, according to the health ministry’s data. The toll rose by 512 to 1,27,571 in 24 hours. There are now 4,94,657 active cases and 80,13,783 recoveries.
Globally, the coronavirus has infected more than 5.13 crore people and killed 12,70,706 people, according to the John Hopkins University data. The recoveries stand at 3,34,90,724.