US pharmaceutical firm Pfizer is reportedly in talks with the Centre to sell its coronavirus vaccine candidate in the country. Recently, Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech claimed that their mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine--BNT162b2-- was found to be more than 90 per cent effective in preventing coronavirus.
The government officials have also confirmed that they were in talks with Pfizer for the vaccine candidate.
The company is expected to produce up to 50 million or five crore doses in 2020, and 1.3 billion (130 crore) doses in 2021, a Pfizer spokesperson said.
"If our vaccine candidate is successful, Pfizer would allocate the available doses across the countries where we have fully executed supply agreements," he added.
However, the major hurdle for the vaccine is storage and distribution. Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine candidate needs to be stored at temperatures of minus 70 degrees Celsius (-94 F) or below.
Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security said: "The cold chain is going to be one of the most challenging aspects of the delivery of this vaccination. This will be a challenge in all settings because hospitals even in big cities do not have storage facilities for a vaccine at that ultra-low temperature".
However, Pfizer has said the company has developed detailed logistical plans to support effective transport and storage of the vaccine. "We have also developed packaging and storage innovations to be fit for purpose for the range of locations where we believe vaccinations will take place," it said.
Meanwhile, the government is keeping a close watch on the outcome of Russia's Sputnik and Oxford-AstraZeneca's Covidshield vaccine candidates. The interim efficacy data on both these vaccines is expected within a month.
Dr Reddy's Laboratories and Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) have received approval from the Drug Control General of India (DCGI) to conduct the late-stage clinical trials for the Sputnik V vaccine in India.
Sputnik V vaccine, developed by the Gamaleya National Research Institute of Epidemiology, was registered by the Russian Health Ministry and went on to become the world's first registered COVID-19 vaccine based on the human adenoviral platform.
Whereas the CEO of Pune-based Serum Institute of India, Adar Poonawalla, has said the Oxford vaccine would be available in India soon after the final trials will be completed in January. He added the Oxford vaccine could be released as early as January 2021 if it proves to be safe and efficient.
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