India may consider indemnity for Pfizer and Moderna vaccines on one condition
Indiamay consider giving the American vaccine makers protection from lawsuits and liability if they offer at least a 100 million doses.
- The comment was made by NK Arora, the head of the Indian government’s vaccine panel, on August 2.
Modernaoffered 7.5 million doses of its vaccine to India and Pfizerhad offered another 50 million doses in May 2021.
- So far, India has been reluctant to provide the indemnity to foreign vaccine makers even at the cost of slow vaccinations.
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The two US-based companies, Pfizer and Moderna, have been in a tug of war with the Indian government. The two companies have been seeking indemnity i.e legal protection against lawsuits if anyone who takes the vaccine in India gets any grievous side effects.
Countries like the US and UK have given the vaccine makers the indemnity they sought for but India has been reluctant even at the cost of delay in vaccinations. India has already waived off the need for local trials in the case of Pfizer but the American drug maker wants nothing of full protection from any lawsuit or liability.
AdvertisementIt is not an easy decision. If one company is given indemnity then all others will also get it, a source told Reuters in June. “There was a possibility of relooking the issue but the amount offered is miniscule” further said Arora.
Moderna offered 7.5 million doses of its vaccine to India and Pfizer had offered another 50 million doses in May 2021. As of August 2, India has administered over 63.2 million doses.
The companies want indemnity because the vaccines have been developed in a matter of months, instead of the many years that it usually takes to approve a vaccine. The risks of side-effects are likely to be higher.
However, it is difficult for the government to ignore the risks to public health as well. “The government should most definitely be on its guard and should take the public into confidence because of the risk of striking an uneven bargain for 50 million doses,” Malini Aisola, a public health activist and co-convenor of the NGO All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN), reportedly said in June this year.
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