September 18, 2021

Govt and Pfizer at a standoff over vaccine indemnity demand

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The Centre and Pfizer are having a stand-off over a demand by Pfizer to have legal protection from any of the claims associated to usage of its Covid-19 vaccine in of the biggest global markets, according to two sources who informed Reuters.

India has not availed any Covid-19 vaccine manufacturer indemnity against the compensation costs, which is the condition Pfizer has demanded in several countries where its shots have been rolled out for vaccination., which also extends to Britain and the US.

The source added, “The whole problem with Pfizer is the indemnity bond. Why should we sign it?” an Indian government source with direct knowledge of the matter said. “If something happens, a patient dies, we will not be able to question them (Pfizer). If somebody challenges it in a court of law, the central government will be responsible for everything, not the company.”

Pfizer has refused to comment over the issue with the reason of ongoing discussions. Indian Health Ministry too remained silent over requests to comment on Friday.

According to the second source, Pfizer is firm with its demand for indemnity and will not change its approach to make the deal with India.

Currently, India is having a shortage of vaccines amid the worsening situation of the second wave of Covid-19 . Considering which, the country pledged to fasten the approval for foreign vaccine makers which comprises Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson. Though, none have asked for permission from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) to launch their vaccine in the country with a population of 1.35 billion.

The second source further added about another issue between the Union Government and Pfizer is the former’s insistence to have local trials prior to vaccine approval.  Pfiozer took the call to withdraw the application for emergency use authorization in February from India over the issue of local trials.

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