Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine: The key takeaway and challenge for India

By: |
November 11, 2020 12:16 PM

Till now, the US company has zeroed in on five facilities worldwide where its vaccine to tackle the novel coronavirus can be manufactured.

At around $40 for a two-dose vaccine, this would cost India around Rs 400,000 crore!At around $40 for a two-dose vaccine, this would cost India around Rs 400,000 crore!

Coronavirus vaccine: Pfizer-BioNTech have announced that their vaccine is proving to be 90% effective based on early results. However, one of the key things India can note from the announcement was the US-based drug giant Pfizer’s intention of engaging in dialogue with the concerned regulatory authorities across the globe, according to a report in IE. Earlier in August, Centre had held a meeting with the representatives of Pfizer’s Indian arm. The meeting was held after the US pharma giant had released the data from the first phase of its vaccine trials, which had seemed promising even back then.

Till now, the US company has zeroed in on five facilities worldwide where its vaccine to tackle the novel coronavirus can be manufactured. Among these are also facilities in the US and Germany. The report cited senior government officials as saying that the giant had not entered into any deal with India as of now, nor had it looked at any manufacturing facility. However, the officials had stated that a “fill and finish” could also possibly come up at a later stage.

By the end of the year, Pfizer is aiming to produce up to 100 million or 10 crore vaccine doses, and also hopes to potentially produce over 1.2 billion doses by 2021. At the moment, it has entered into vaccine supply agreements with countries like Canada, the US, Japan and the UK.

In case Pfizer and BioNTech, which is the German partner of Pfizer for this vaccine, decide to hold discussions with Indian authorities, one of the major issues that would need to be solved would be the lack of appropriate cold storage facility. Pfizer-BioNTech have produced an mRNA vaccine which needs to be stored and shipped in sub-zero temperatures, the report stated.

Meanwhile, India’s high-level expert panel looking into the administration of coronavirus vaccine has formed a subgroup. This subgroup has begun mapping of the cold-storage facilities across India. The group is even mapping cold storage facilities involved in the food processing industry. Presently, the country has a cold storage network consisting of 28,000 units for the universal immunisation programme, and it can handle temperatures between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius.

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