Pharmaceutical company Pfizer on Tuesday denied having placed a bid to provide vaccines in India, after Mumbai civic body Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation claimed the firm responded to its global tender, ANI reported. The Maharashtra government, which had floated a separate tender, also claimed to have received eight bids, including those which promised Pfizer shots.
However, both the Maharashtra government and officials of the civic body said that they have received responses only from facilitator firms which claim tie-ups with manufacturers, The Indian Express reported. No manufacturer has directly responded to them.
BMC Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal had on Tuesday claimed that the civic body had received eight bids in response to its tender for procurement of one crore vaccine doses.
“One bid is for Pfizer/AstraZeneca and remaining seven bids are for Sputnik,” Chahal said, according to ANI. He added that the tender, which was set to expire on Tuesday, has been extended for a week.
The “Pfizer/AstraZeneca” bid mentioned by Chahal is purportedly from a Czech company called O2 Blue Energy SRL, which said it can provide a consignment containing both the vaccines within a month, NDTV reported, quoting the civic body chief.
However, soon after, Pfizer denied that it had entered any such deal.
“Neither Pfizer nor any of its affiliates globally, including in India, have authorised anyone to import/market/distribute Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine,” a company spokesperson said. “We continue to have discussions with GoI [government of India] towards making our vaccine available for use nationally.”
The Pfizer vaccine is yet to receive approval for use in India from the government.
The Maharashtra government also said that it had received eight responses from companies claiming they can supply Sputnik V, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, The Indian Express reported.
N Ramaswamy, Director of the Maharashtra National Health Mission, said that some bidders have offered one crore doses, and one even up to five crore jabs. The rates offered by the bidders ranged between $10 to $38 dollars (Rs 728 to Rs 2,767) for each dose, Ramaswamy added.
The Maharashtra government held a meeting with the Centre on Tuesday on examining credibility of the firms who have responded to global tender for vaccines, The Indian Express reported.
“We don’t know if the suppliers are reliable, whether they have tie-ups with Russian Direct Investment Fund [manufacturer of Sputnik V] or Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech,” a state government official said. “We will direct details of all parties to the Union government for verification.”
Karnataka Health and Family Welfare Commissioner KV Trilok Chandra said that the southern state has also received two responses on its tender, the Hindustan Times reported. The responses are for supply of doses of Sputnik V and its single-dose version Sputnik Light. Chandra, however, added that the quantity of vaccines has not been specified in the responses and that the tender processing will be completed in the next couple of days.
Several states are seeking to procure vaccines through global tenders or by approaching manufacturers directly amid shortages of doses across the country. However, the route has not proved to be a smooth one.
On Sunday, the Punjab said that pharmaceutical company Moderna has refused to supply its coronavirus vaccines directly to the state government. A day later, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that Pfizer and Moderna have refused to sell doses directly to the Aam Aadmi Party government. The vaccine manufacturers have said they will deal only with the Union government.