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FPJ Exclusive: No response from global vaccine suppliers to Maharashtra government’s EoI, says Rajesh Tope

11:44 PM May 23, 2021 | Sanjay Jog

Mumbai: None of the big shot manufacturers have evinced any interest in the Maharashtra government’s much-publicised expression of interest (EoI), Public Health Minister Rajesh Tope revealed on Sunday. Early last week, the state had floated an EoI and not tenders, for a response from global suppliers, to determine their intent, supply schedules and prices in a bid to procure vaccine doses to meet the current shortage in the state and expedite the immunisation drive. The state government was banking on replies from Pfizer, Moderna, Sputnik, Johnson & Johnson and Zydus Cadila but none of them came forward.

Tope told The Free Press Journal, “As on date, there is no response from global vaccine suppliers to the government’s EoI. Therefore, the Government of India needs to formulate a vaccine import policy at the national level and should ensure that there won’t be unhealthy competition among the states. The Centre should float a global tender for vaccine procurement and let the respective states pay for the quantum of doses they need. Supply should be allocated to states as per the population norm, at a price fixed by the Centre.” He clarified that the imported vaccines would be used for the vaccination of beneficiaries aged 18-44 years.

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The state health minister’s suggestions came on a day when Moderna told the Punjab Government that it would only deal with the government of India and not with any state government or private parties, according to a statement by the Punjab government.

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On Saturday, Pfizer had said that it was still in talks with India and it remained hopeful about reaching an agreement. However, the company has been consistent in its position on indemnity and does not plan to change its approach for a deal with India.

At home meanwhile, on the procurement of doses from Serum India Institute and Bharat Biotech, Tope said the state government had not yet receive fresh supplies and time schedules from them. “The SII had orally conveyed to the Chief Minister about a monthly supply of one crore doses from June. But there is no formal communication yet,” he noted.

On the lockdown: Speaking on the lockdown, now in place till 7am on June 1, Tope said it would not be fully withdrawn but instead, extended further to break the chain of transmission of the virus However, he said the government was likely to consider some relaxations after reviewing the ground situation.

“The government may think of few relaxations in districts where there has been a continuous fall in cases, the decline in positivity rate is in single digits and there are no constraints in the availability of beds for patients. But there will be no easing of the stringent lockdown restrictions in districts with a large number of cases and higher positivity rates” Tope said. He said the night curfew would continue and theatres, malls, and restaurants would continue to remain shut.

“The government may consider relaxation in the timings of essential shops, which are currently in operation from 7am to 11am,” said Tope. He added, the government would soon consider some more relaxations.

Mucormycosis: Tope said that he had signed off on a file declaring mucormycosis or black fungus as a notified disease. Both government and private hospitals should now submit reports of patients undergoing treatment for this condition. Hospitals will be mandated to immediately notify the Directorate of Public Health.

“Patients in government-empanelled hospitals will get insurance cover of Rs 1.50 lakh under the state insurance scheme Mahatma Jyotirao Phule Jan Arogya Yojana (MJPJAY) and the remainder of the treatment expenses will be incurred by the State Health Society. The government will approach big hospitals, including Bombay Hospital, Lilavati and others and urge them to empanel to treat mucormycosis patients,” said Tope.

The state government had urged the Centre to allocate two lakh vials of Amphotericin B to treat mucormycosis patients but the Centre had yet to do so, Tope said.

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