Pfizer, Moderna in talks with UP Government to Bid for Vaccine

International May 23, 2021

In an amendment to its global tender for COVID-19 vaccines issued on May 7, the UP government has made the conditions for vaccine storage flexible, making companies like Pfizer and Moderna eligible to place bids for 40 million doses.

The state government, in the original tender issued on May 7, set the conditions for storing vaccines between 2 and 8 degrees. This barred mRNA (messenger RNA) vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna, which require ultra-cold storage conditions, from placing bids.

According to the conditions of the original tender, suppliers that require 'special cold storage conditions' , like Pfizer and Moderna, would have to arrange for their own cold-chain logistics or maintain proper contact with an agent.

The pre-bid meeting which was called by the UP Medical Supplies Corporation (UPMSC) on May 12 was attended by representatives of Pfizer. Kishora Gupta from Pfizer said that the government was still considering his company's proposal to supply vaccines to India.

Also in attendance were representatives from the Serum Institute of India (SII), Dr Reddy's Lab (manufacturers of Sputnik), Zydus Cadila and Bharat Biotech. Due to high number of pending orders, SII won't be able to participate in the bidding process, a representative from the company said.

Inspite of their participation in the pre-bid meeting, Pfizer and Moderna will only be initiate discussions about supplying vaccines in the third quarter of 2021, the Centre said.

As per the earlier conditions of the tender, China's Sinopharm, which requires storage temperatures between 2-8 degrees Celsius, is eligible for application. It was listed by WHO on May 7 for emergency use. However, a state government spokesperson has said it's unlikely that Chinese manufacturing firms would participate in the bidding process.

Conversations are still in progress between the Centre and foreign vaccine manufacturing firms and it remains to be seen whether they will be supplying vaccines to India.

This article has been written by Sherwyn Fernandes for The Paradigm

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