Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has called on the centre to procure the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to inoculate children in the national capital and across the country. “We should procure this vaccine asap (as soon as possible) for our children,” Mr Kejriwal tweeted Thursday morning.
The appeal came after sources told news agency PTI the US pharma giant and central government officials have held a series of meetings to fast-track approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
The vaccine, Pfizer told the government, has been proven suitable for children over the age of 12. It has been cleared for use on 12-15 year old children in the United States and Canada.
None of the three vaccines currently approved for use in India – Covishield, Covaxin or Sputnik V – have been cleared for use on those below 18, although Covaxin is expected to begin trials for the 2-18 age group by the month’s end.
We shud procure this vaccine asap for our children https://t.co/uObqQDmpn8
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) May 27, 2021
Pfizer, sources told PTI, is willing to roll out five crore doses between July and October – if it receives significant regulatory relaxations, including indemnification, or protection from compensation claims in case of adverse events.
The two sides have held a series of meetings over the past few weeks, some of which also involved Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla, to resolve issues, including grant of legal indemnity.
Mr Kejriwal and the Delhi government had earlier reached out to Pfizer to supply them with vaccines directly but the company refused, citing internal policy that said it would only deal with central governments.
States insist they do not have enough doses to vaccinate both age groups – 18-44 and over-45. The centre insists that they do. This has slowed vaccinations, particularly for the former age group, which government data says accounts for nearly half of all new Covid cases this month.
On Wednesday afternoon Mr Kejriwal urged the centre to play its part in the national vaccination drive and buy enough doses to inoculate people across the country, rather than leaving it to states to try and negotiate separate deals with manufacturers.
States cannot compete among themselves to buy vaccines – any more than being forced to buy individual stores of weapons and ammunition in case of an attack by Pakistan – he told NDTV.
“The centre is saying that states should buy vaccines on their own. The states have spoken to everyone. Not a single state has been successful in getting an extra dose (of vaccine). This was the job of the centre,” the Chief Minister said.
“States are doing everything they can. We tried global tenders, we spoke to companies and they are refusing to speak to us… It’s like imagine, if Pakistan attempts war on India, will the centre leave states to defend themselves? Will they ask, did Delhi make nuclear bombs, did Uttar Pradesh buy tanks?” Mr Kejriwal told NDTV.