US says it’s waiting for India’s approval to dispatch Moderna, Pfizer vaccines

The United States said that it is waiting for green light from the Indian government to ship its Pfizer vaccines expeditiously, which the US is donating to several countries worldwide. “We are ready to ship those vaccines expeditiously when we have a green light from the Government of India,” said State Department Spokesperson Ned Price, news agency PTI reported.

Earlier, the US President Joe Biden had announced to share 80 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines from its domestic stockpile with several countries around the globe, including India. The US vaccines have already landed in Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. But for India it is taking time due to some necessary legal hurdles for such an emergency import.

India is supposed to get 3-4 million doses of Moderna and Pfizer from the US. Although Moderna has been approved by the Drug Controller General of India, Pfizer has not yet applied for an emergency approval in India yet.

“Before we can ship those doses, however, each country must complete its own domestic set of operational, of regulatory, and legal processes that are specific to each country. Now, India has determined that it needs further time to review legal provisions related to accepting vaccine donations,” Ned Price said.

After India works through its legal processes, the US share of vaccine doses will proceed quickly to India, he said, adding “we would need to refer you to the Government of India on the status of its discussions with COVAX, which, in this case, is helping to facilitate that delivery.”

Price said they’re donating millions of vaccines more broadly throughout South Asia, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. So far, about 40 million doses have been delivered around the world.

The vaccines that will be available to India now are from the US donation and no agreement has been made yet on commercial supplies of these vaccines in India. While the DCGI approves Moderna, Cipla will import the vaccine doses from the US, but for now there has been no decision on legal indemnity. Moderna and Pfizer want legal protection in India which will protect them from any legal cases in the country.

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