India’s Union Minister said in his interview with The Economic Times that India may not need Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine with other vaccine candidates being tested in the country showing promising results in safety trials so far.
He said, "United States has not even given licence to Pfizer. So it does not make sense for other countries like India to consider it. We are in touch with everyone but I feel that we may not need Pfizer vaccine." The health minister’s statement came on a day Oxford University and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca announced that Covid-19 vaccine being developed jointly by them showed 70% efficiency and the efficacy could be 90% under one dosing regimen.
“They (Pfizer) do not have enough capacity. They would first need to fulfil the requirement in US and then supply to other countries. So we may not need them,” said Dr Harsh Vardhan. He further said that India has at least 3 vaccine candidates in the advanced stages and that one can expect their introduction by February or March 2021.
Besides other concerns, experts wonder if India can fulfil the storage requirements of vaccines like Pfizer which needs to be stored at minus 70 degree Celsius while our cold storage is used to storing vaccines at minus 20 degree.
Regarding the distribution procedure, the health minister said, “No vaccine would be available in adequate numbers at one go. The dosages will be limited so we will cover the population in phases. It would not be available in the market initially.”
Pfizer and BioNTech offer one of the most competent vaccines against Covid-19. The vaccine candidate was found to be more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 in participants without evidence of prior SARS-CoV-2 infection in the first interim efficacy analysis. It is considered to be the most hopeful followed by Moderna.