Pharma major Pfizer that has also manufactured one of the leading anti-Covid vaccines, has now made a donation of Covid medication worth USD 70 million to India. This was revealed in a letter by Pfizer Chairman and CEO, Albert Bourla to the company’s Indian team that he later posted to his LinkedIn profile.
The letter said, “We are committed to being a partner in India’s fight against this disease and are quickly working to mobilize the largest humanitarian relief effort in our company’s history.” Bourla said, “Right now, Pfizer colleagues at distribution centres in the US, Europe and Asia are hard at work rushing shipments of Pfizer medicines that the Government of India has identified as part of its COVID-19 treatment protocol. We are donating these medicines to make sure that every Covid-19 patient in every public hospital across the country can have access to the Pfizer medicines they need free of charge.”
The donated medicines include steroid medication to reduce inflammation, anti-coagulants to help prevent blood clotting, and antibiotics. Bourla pegged the value of the donated medicines at USD 70 million.
On the subject of vaccines, Bourla said, “Pfizer is aware that access to vaccines is critical to ending this pandemic. Unfortunately, our vaccine is not registered in India although our application was submitted months ago.”
It is noteworthy that Pfizer was one of the first anti-Covid vaccines to be granted Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) in the United States. However, India is administering the indigenously developed Covaxin by Bharat Biotech, and Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covishield that is being manufactured in India by the Serum Institute. It has also granted EUA to the Russian manufactured Sputnik V vaccine. Other popular vaccines that are available internationally include those manufactured by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
There is an acute shortage of vaccines in India at present which is why despite being able to register online, few people in the 18-44 age group have been able to book a vaccination appointment.
After a previous decision allowing state governments to independently make arrangements for vaccines, many state governments floated global tenders for vaccines and life-saving medication. Though on Monday, the Supreme Court suggested that the Centre reconsider its strategy and ensure centralized acquisition but decentralized distribution.