Working to import Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at the earliest, says govt

The centre claims that the manufacturers may also give preference to countries of their origin

India reported 211,298 new infections on Thursday, the world's highest daily rise, but almost half the daily infections it recorded earlier this month.

Pfizer, which is ready to offer 5 crore doses to India between July and October this year and has sought certain relaxations including indemnification, has held a series of interactions with the Indian government authorities recently including one this week, during which it shared the most recent data points regarding efficacy trials and approvals for its vaccine in various countries and by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Thursday's move will allow imports of shots developed by Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna with which India has been in talks with little success.

Only about 3% of India's 1.3 billion people have been fully vaccinated, the lowest rate among the 10 countries with the most cases.

Experts believe that figure grossly underestimates the actual toll. Vaccines are in limited supply globally, and companies have their own priorities, game-plans and compulsions in allocating finite stocks.

Addressing a press conference on May 24, Lav Agarwal, joint secretary, health ministry, had said the order books of both Pfizer and Moderna were full most of the time and that depending on the surplus available with them, they will get back to the government.

U.S. studying cases of heart inflammation among youngsters who received Covid jabs
Earlier this month United States regulators expanded authorisation of Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine to children aged 12 to 15. The province says up to five people from different households can now gather outside.

Paul said the central government has remained engaged continuously with all the major worldwide vaccine manufacturers from mid-2020. "This is under discussion but there is no decision as of now".

United States pharma giant Pfizer on Wednesday told the central government that its COVID-19 vaccine is "highly effective" against the COVID-19 variant that is prevalent in India. There was no immediate response from Moderna or Johnson & Johnson to Reuters requests for comment. Sources said that India and Russian Federation are planning to manufacture around 35-40 million doses every month that will start from August or September. India has also been using two vaccines - Covishield by the Serum Institute of India (SII) and Covaxin by the Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has faced mounting criticism for its failure to secure vaccines for its people as a devastating second wave rips through the vast hinterland.

The first Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine inoculations came just under a month since the United Kingdom also became the first country in the world to commence the rollout of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

The Reserve Bank of India, the central bank, stressed the global importance of vaccinations in its annual report.

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