India have to wait till 2022 to get Moderna’s mRNA COVID-19 vaccine

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India will have to wait till 2022 to get Moderna’s mRNA COVID-19 vaccine as the company’s orders are fully booked till 2021, as per an internal government report. The Centre is still holding discussions with the US-based pharma company regarding the production of its mRNA technology-based COVID-19 vaccine as part of the country’s vaccination programme.

“Discussions with Moderna yielded their interest in supplies of their vaccine only in 2022 as their orders were fully booked for the year 2021. Moderna’s leadership also showed interest in a discussion for production of Moderna vaccines in India in next few years,” the government report added, the Hindustan Times reported.

To deal with issues pertaining to procurement of COVID-19 vaccines from foreign vaccine makers, the government had set up a team on June 11 headed by Niti Aayog (health) officials comprising officers from the health ministry, department of legal affairs and the external affairs ministry. This team is in dialogue with foreign manufacturers like Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and Moderna on various issues like indemnity.  

The government noted that indemnity clauses are an important part of its purchase agreements with pharma companies after studying agreements of companies like Pfizer with other nations, as per an internal report. None of the companies approved in India has got such sort of protection from the government so far.

“Pfizer agreed to supply several million doses of Pfizer vaccines but insisted on an indemnity agreement to waive off all liability of the company, as well as on sovereign jurisdiction and arbitration,” the report said. It further mentioned that Indian missions abroad confirmed the existence of such agreements and apprised the concerned authorities about the same.