For India, the move away from a centralized vaccine procurement approach to vaccinating its youth, the 18-44-year age group, does not seem to be working.
Global tenders floated by 9 states to procure vaccines from manufacturers directly, with collectively more than 28 crore doses to order, have all drawn a blank, so far.
India is the only country to have different state governments releasing global tenders to procure the already scarce COVID-19 vaccines, competing against each other and in the world for supplies.
Vaccine companies like Pfizer, Moderna are already indicating they will deal only with the Central government and not individual states. This adds another layer to the already complex ‘new liberalised vaccine procurement policy’ and leaves very limited options for states.
Maharashtra, Delhi, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana are among states that have released formal tenders. Most of these have not received any interest from global vaccine makers and some have had to ease bidding criteria. This is at a time when a shortage of vaccines has slowed or stopped vaccinations across the country.
This is where some of the state-level bids stand.
Health Minister Rajesh Tope said the state hasn’t received any response for the vaccine global tender. “We are requesting the Center to float tender and supply vaccines to us.” Maharashtra had floated a tender to procure 50 million doses approved by WHO and USFDA. The last date for submissions for a global tender for 5 crore doses is May 26.
City’s civic body BMC has received bids from 8 potential suppliers in response to the Global Expression of Interest for procurement of 1 crore vaccine doses. Bids are not from manufacturers but suppliers (importers/intermediaries), one interested in supplying Pfizer/Astra Zeneca vaccine, remaining 7 supplier bids is for Russia’s Sputnik vaccine. BMC says will examine the business relationship between interested suppliers and companies that actually produce vaccines. The bid deadline has also been extended by a week to get more interest.
The state health department says so far, no company has responded to the global tender for COVID-19 vaccine procurement. The time for submission of interest for tender has been extended till 31st May.
The state The UP State Medical Supplies Corporation Ltd had floated a global tender for 4 crore doses on May 7. However, after some vaccine makers expressed their inability to meet storage requirements, the state government relaxed storage and supply requirements. The state has also reduced the security amount from Rs 16 crore to Rs 8 crore. Since the state hasn’t received any feelers yet, the last date of opening of technical bids has been extended to May 31.
Moderna turned down the Punjab government’s request, saying it does not supply directly to states or private entities and will deal directly with the Government of India. Owing to the non-availability of vaccines in Punjab, vaccination in phases 1 & 2 has been stopped for the past three days.
CM Arvind Kejriwal has said that the state has spoken to Pfizer, Moderna for vaccines, and both the companies have refused to sell vaccines directly to us. They have said that they will deal with the Government of India alone.
Kerala Medical Services Corporation Ltd’s tenders to procure 3 crore doses was floated on May 22
State floated four tenders to buy 2 crore vaccines; 50 lakh doses through each tender.
Floated a tender to procure 10 million vaccine doses.
Under the new liberalized vaccine procurement policy, state governments and private entities are free to procure vaccine directly from manufacturers or suppliers. This means 29 states and hundreds of private entities, corporate and hospitals are potential buyers, each negotiating their own supplies from domestic manufacturers and global manufacturers. Since it is a state responsibility now most state governments have announced free vaccinations for 18-44-year-olds, however, the supply of vaccines remains a challenge.
Pfizer in a statement yesterday said the company will supply vaccine only to the central governments and supranational organizations for deployment in national immunisation programmes.
“Allocation of doses and implementation plan within a country is a decision for local governments based on relevant health authority guidance,” it said.
Most imported vaccines have already signed advance purchase agreements and committed their supplies to other nations.
The Union Health Ministry has said they are coordinating with Pfizer and Moderna on the central level for approval and procurement. However, “Order books of Pfizer, Moderna are full most of the time, depending on their surplus they can provide to India,” Joint Health Secretary Luv Agarwal said.