India has consistently recorded over 3 lakh fresh cases everyday for the 14 days of May so far with around 3000 deaths being recorded daily. Meanwhile, people are desperately looking for hospital beds and oxygen cylinders everywhere, with the inefficient Vaccination Programme adding to further confusion. Half the country is either under total or partial lockdown including major cities like Delhi and Mumbai.
Amidst this impending shortage of vaccines all across the country, the Centre has, for the first time, said that it has been in talks with three global manufacturers — Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson — to supply to India.
However, the government revealed on Thursday, the three pharma giants have communicated that they would be able to open discussions only in “Q3, 2021”.
The government informed, according to estimates given by vaccine manufacturers, over 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines could become available for India between August and December this year.
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar on Friday, May 14, further announced that the Central government will supply nearly 1 crore 92 lakh of COVID-19 vaccines to States/UTs, free of cost, during the fortnight of 16th-31st May 2021.
“We have contacted manufacturers and sought information on the availability of vaccines for August-December… In this period, 216 crore doses would become available in India. The vaccine will be made available for all as we move forward…,” Dr. V K Paul, head of India’s COVID-19 Task Force, said.
Paul further informed that the government has “formally” approached Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J to provide doses to India, and offered to assist them in various ways. The companies were even asked if they would like to manufacture in India. The government even offered them help in finding partners and assisting them in every possible way.
Unfortunately, all three companies said that they would only be able to "talk" in a few months in Q3 of 2021 as they are moving "according to their plan" and don't have 'free capacity'.
According to Paul, India hopes that the three companies might possibly 'transfer' their technology to Indian manufacturers.