Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday said pharmaceutical company Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine should be procured immediately.
“We should procure this vaccine ASAP for our children,” Kejriwal tweeted, hours after the American company told the Indian government that its Covid-19 vaccine had shown “high effectiveness” against the virus variant that is dominant in India and on people of Indian ethnicity or nationality.
The company has said that the vaccine was suitable for everyone aged 12 years or older, and more importantly, can be safely stored for a month at 2 to 8 degrees Celsius.
Pfizer has sought fast-track approval for its vaccine and is in talks with the Indian government to roll out five crore doses between July and October, while asking for significant regulatory relaxations.
“The current situation in India, and across the world, is not ‘business as usual’ and we must not respond to it with processes as usual too,” Pfizer reportedly said.
Pfizer was the first company to seek emergency use authorisation for its vaccine in India late last year. But the company withdrew its application in February after the drugs regulator asked for a local safety study for the vaccine.
The Delhi chief minister’s push for the vaccine to be procured for the country came as the Capital and multiple states struggle to inoculate its residents amid an acute shortage.
Kejriwal had on Wednesday said India was fighting a war against Covid-19 and that this was not the time for the central government to make states fend for themselves. The chief minister was referring to the central government’s current vaccine policy which makes states procure the shots for its residents.
The Narendra Modi-led administration at the Centre has been widely criticised for opening up vaccination for all adults, without at least a proper supply schedule from manufacturers. Under the new vaccination policy, states and private hospitals have the onus of procuring vaccines for those in the 18-44 age group, from the manufacturers directly. But the policy leaves only 50% of the vaccines manufactured by Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India to be used to inoculate nearly 60 crore beneficiaries in this age group. The remaining half of the stock is earmarked for the Centre to vaccinate priority groups.
The new vaccine policy has also resulted in states floating global tenders to get vaccines. Some administrations also complained that global vaccine makers had refused to coordinate with them.
Plea on vaccine shortages
Meanwhile, the Delhi High Court heard a plea on the vaccination drive on Thursday, reported PTI. The plea, moved by lawyer Vivek Gaur, claimed that he was unable to get vaccinated due to the insufficient stock of vaccines.
The plea argued that the Delhi government had claimed to have placed an order of more than 1.34 crore vaccine doses with the Centre. But the Union government refuted this claim.
A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh sent a notice to the Union home ministry and the Delhi government, seeking their replies on the matter.
India on Thursday reported 2,11,298 new cases in the last 24 hours, taking the overall tally to 2,73,69,093 since the pandemic first broke out in January 2020. The toll rose by 3,847 to 3,15,235, while the active caseload stood at 24,19,907.