The Karnataka government will deal directly with global COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers and not with distribution companies, Deputy Chief Minister C N Ashwath Narayan said on May 31.
The decision was taken after two distribution companies, which had responded to the global tenders floated by Karnataka on May 15, "did not provide required technical and supply ensuring documents", Narayan was reported as saying by CNBC TV 18.
The two companies - Mumbai-based Bulk MRO Industrial Supply and Bengaluru-based Thulasi Systems - did not send their representatives for the virtual meeting called by the state government, the deputy chief minister claimed.
The Karnataka government has now begun the process of "communicating directly with vaccine manufacturing companies", he said, adding that the state would "deal directly" with the global vaccine makers.
Notably, the two local distribution companies with whom Karnataka government has decided not to finalise the deal, had proposed to supply the Sputnik V and Sputnik Light vaccines - developed by Russia.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
A number of Indian states, including Karnataka, decided to procure vaccines by floating global tenders. Their efforts, however, were hit after Pfizer and Moderna - two among the top global vaccine makers - said they would deal only with the central government.
The move to approach the global manufacturers came amidst the onset of second pandemic wave, which led to the number of infections rising exponentially in the country.