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India and Pfizer are attempting to resolve their dispute over vaccine indemnity - sources

Berita 24 English -  According to Pfizer,   and the Indian government are attempting to resolve tensions over the US drugmaker's demand ...

Berita 24 English - 
According to Pfizer, and the Indian government are attempting to resolve tensions over the US drugmaker's demand for legal protection against any claims related to the use of its COVID-19 vaccine in one of the world's largest markets to two sources.

India has not indemnified any manufacturer of a COVID-19 vaccine against the costs of compensation for any severe side effects, as Pfizer has done in many countries where its shots are already widely used, including the United Kingdom the United States.

However, three additional sources told Reuters that some form of legal protection is still considered in India and Pfizer work to reach an agreement on a vaccine.

Reaching an agreement with Pfizer is critical for India's central government, which is battling to secure necessary COVID-19 vaccine doses as daily cases exceed 255,000. Officials in India said this week that 98 per cent of the country's approximately 1.3 billion people remain susceptible to infection.

India's foreign minister plans to visit the United States in the coming weeks, one of the sources said, in part to allay Pfizer's concerns. He may offer Pfizer some form of immunity from lawsuits in exchange for additional assistance with distributing the company's shots in India, two additional sources said.

A request for comment from India's foreign ministry was not immediately returned.

According to one of the sources, the two parties discussed the indemnity issue late this week but have not yet reached an agreement.

According to a Pfizer spokeswoman, the company is still negotiating with India and has not reached an impasse, adding that Pfizer remains optimistic about reaching an agreement.

Pfizer has remained consistent in its approach to indemnity and has no plans to do so in connection with a deal with India, one of the sources said. All of the sources declined to be identified due to their lack of media authorization.

On Friday, India's health ministry did not respond to Reuters' requests for comment.

India pledged last month to expedite approvals for vaccine manufacturers from outside the country, including Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson.

None, however, have sought approval from India's drug regulator to sell their vaccine in the country.

According to one source, another point of contention between Pfizer and New Delhi is the Indian government's insistence on conducting a local trial before approving any vaccine. According to the source, Pfizer cannot finalize the terms of a supply agreement, including indemnity, until the vaccine is approved for use in India.

In February, Pfizer withdrew its application for emergency use authorization for the vaccine developed with Germany's BioNTech, citing India's insistence on such a trial.

However, three other shots approved for sale in India have completed small-scale safety trials. They were developed by AstraZeneca, Russia's Sputnik V, and Bharat Biotech, collaborating with the state-run Indian Council of Medical Research.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla expressed optimism on May 4 that the government's policy of local trials would change and that a path to delivering the drugmaker's shots in India could be found.

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