The Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government has amended its global tender for COVID-19 vaccines issued last week to make the vaccine storage conditions flexible. The amendment has made companies like Pfizer and Moderna eligible to place bids.
The state has also introduced a new provision in its tender saying companies applying from neighbouring countries (like China) would first need the Centre’s nod.
In the initial tender issued on May 7 for 40 million vaccine doses, the UP government had said that the vaccine to be supplied should be able to be stored between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius. This effectively put MNRA vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna out of the race as they require much lower storage temperatures of minus 70 degrees Celsius and minus 20 degrees Celsius respectively. Pfizer however still attended UP’s pre-bid tender meeting on May 12, along with Johnson & Johnson (J&J), Serum Institute, Bharat Biotech, Zydus and Dr Reddy’s Laboratories which is going to manufacture Sputnik. Most of the other vaccines can be stored at 2 to 8 degrees Celsius.
“The COVID vaccine other than temperature range requirement (2-8 degree celsius) may also be accepted subject to fulfillment of all other terms and conditions mentioned in the bid. For vaccine which requires storage, transportation and temperature range other than above (2-8 degrees) like -20 degree/ -70 degree/ -80 degree, seller has to advise and facilitate the transportation up to consignee place and safe storage at consignee store till the time vaccine is dispatched from consignee store to ultimate destination (vaccine administration place),” the amended tender says.
The UP government has storage facility for temperature range, 2-8 degrees (in the form of walk-in cooler, ice-lined refrigerator) and “limited capacity of minus 20 degrees storage (in the form of deep freezer)”, it says.
The state government’s original tender had said a bidder may have the nationality of any country, thereby not barring Chinese manufacturers. That has now been amended through a corrigendum. “Any bidder from a country which shares a land border with India will be eligible to bid in any procurement whether of goods, services or works only if the bidder is registered with Competent Authority,” the new stipulation added to the tender says.
Compliance with an order issued by the Ministry of Finance on July 23, 2020, has been made mandatory under which restrictions were placed on bidders from countries sharing a land border with India and only those registered by a committee under the Department for Promotion of Industrial and Internal Trade (DPIIT), would be allowed to participate in bids.
Global tenders issued by the Uttarakhand government and Mumbai’s civic body for vaccines had specifically barred companies from neighbouring countries. Among the other changes introduced by UP in its tender is to halve the earnest money deposit from Rs 160 million to Rs 80 million.