Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are soon expected to be released in the Indian market. However, the catch is that these vaccines are not likely to be included in the free vaccination drive for beneficiaries above 18 years. Nevertheless, the government will facilitate the procurement of the vaccines.
While the government is in advanced talks with the companies for the vaccines, the high price tag is likely to act as a deterrent for bulk procurement, said people in the know to The Economic Times. The Centre has so far even indicated that the Pfizer vaccine could be available in India as early as July.
An official told the daily that the government will facilitate the procurement but these vaccines are most likely to be available largely in private hospitals only.
The aim of the Centre, the official said, was to scale up vaccination as much as possible to prevent a possible third wave. The official said that the government wants to target at least 40 per cent of the adult population. "This would mean large scale procurement of vaccines. If we want to increase the reach, more vaccines would be required and investing in expensive vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna would not be logical," he told the daily.
However, inclusion of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines might take the load off public immunisation as willing beneficiaries could take the doses at private hospitals.
Additionally, both Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are required to be stored in temperatures below zero. The cold chain requirement is something that can only be maintained in big hospitals in large metros. The official said that these factors restrict their choices considerably. Instead of putting the money in the cold chain, the government would rather invest in procuring more vaccines, the official stated.