The panel will also look at expediting the entry of foreign-made COVID-19 vaccines for India, and examine logistics, pricing and the supply chain issues (Representative image: Reuters)
The Centre has set up an inter-ministerial panel consisting of COVID-19 Task Force Head VK Paul and senior officials from the Ministry of External Affairs, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and the Law Ministry to resolve issues regarding supply of COVID-19 vaccines into India.
Among the big issues this committee will tackle includes the indemnity clause which has been a bone of contention between the Centre and pharma manufacturer Pfizer, officials told The Economic Times.
Moneycontrol could not independently verify the report.
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Besides this, the panel will also look at expediting the entry of foreign-made COVID-19 vaccines for India, and examine logistics, pricing and the supply chain issues, they added.
Why the panel?
As per the report, there is a stalemate within the government over accepting Pfizer’s demand for indemnity against potential adverse effects of its COVID-19 vaccine.
Officials told the paper “an influential view within the government” is inclined towards accepting Pfizer’s demand with the logic to import as many vaccines as possible to fortify India’s vaccination programme ahead of a potential third coronavirus wave.
Another section of officials however “flagged concerns over the implications” of accepting Pfizer’s demand. The source pointed out: “If the government agrees to indemnify vaccine makers, we might enter completely unknown territory.”
Why the concern over giving indemnity?
The “unknown territory” officials are worried about is that unlike the United States (which has granted vaccine manufacturers indemnity), India does not have a vaccine compensation fund or other similar mechanisms to compensate for adverse effects following immunisation.
“How will we give compensation?” the official questioned, adding that India may have to consider setting up a compensation fund along similar lines to the US.
He added that a “policy shift” would also be in the reckoning, with indemnity extension for other COVID-19 vaccines administered – Covishield, Covaxin and Sputnik, and also other vaccines in general, e.g. for polio from the newly created fund.For full coverage on the coronavirus pandemic click here