India is in talks with US pharmaceutical giants Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson about sourcing and possible local manufacturing of their Covid-19 vaccines even as it awaits WHO approval for the indigenous Covaxin vaccine, foreign secretary Harsh Shringla said on Thursday.
Addressing the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Southeast Asia regional health partners’ forum on Covid-19, Shringla said the government has taken several steps to speed up domestic manufacturing of vaccines, such as easing “regulatory disruptions” of supply chains for raw materials and components.
With the pandemic well into its second year, India is “fighting an exceptionally severe second wave”, and the country has “lived through a series of extraordinary stresses and shocks” while dealing with “unprecedented economic and social disruptions”, he said.
Listing the steps taken by the Centre to overcome the impact of the pandemic, Shringla said, “We are also part of the discussions with major vaccine manufacturers like Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Moderna about sourcing and possible local manufacturing of their vaccines in India. We have also helped to expedite the introduction of Sputnik-V vaccines.”
He added, “We are also looking forward to WHO’s approval for India’s indigenous vaccine manufactured by Bharat Biotech.”
India’s vaccination programme has been hit by a shortage of jabs and the government has ramped up efforts to both buy doses from abroad and ramp up domestic production.
Later in the day, external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said: “We are also engaged with the US administration to ensure that necessary components and raw materials for vaccine production in India are readily available… It is in our mutual interest to combat the global pandemic by expediting vaccination efforts.”