India Inc to Import Vaccines to Immunize Staff

The largest Indian conglomerates, including the Tata Group and Reliance Industries Ltd, are exploring options to import vaccines directly from manufacturers to inoculate their workforce and ensure business continuity after two waves of the deadly pandemic and with vaccine shortages in India which are expected to persist for the near future. .

The Tata group, which has more than 700,000 employees, is likely to issue a global tender for the vaccines, said two people with direct knowledge of the problem.

“The group companies are in talks with various service providers in the vaccine import chain. This would involve obtaining a license and setting up a back-end infrastructure for the storage of vaccines, etc. The company does the groundwork, and once everything is in place, it can make a formal decision to import vaccines, ”a senior Tata group official said, asking for anonymity.

Reliance Industries is also exploring links with global manufacturers to deliver vaccines directly to its employees, an RIL official said on condition of anonymity.

Neither the Tata group nor RIL responded to requests for comment. A spokesperson for Larsen and Toubro Ltd said in an email response: “We are evaluating all options available to boost our vaccination campaign. The company is in constant dialogue with the two vaccine manufacturers, ”the spokesperson said.

About 70% of L&T employees aged 45 and over took their first dose of the vaccine while 20% took their second dose, the official said, adding that about 10% of employees under the age of 45 also took their first dose. took their first dose of vaccination. .

In an effort to improve vaccine availability, the government earlier this month allowed private and non-central government entities to import vaccines. Vaccines that have not received an emergency use license in India would need to obtain “New Drug Authorization” from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO). Companies and state governments, however, do not need to follow these rules if the vaccine is already authorized by the Comptroller General of Medicines of India (DCGI), and any entity, including private companies, can purchase it from the importer in accordance with revised government guidelines for the vaccine. supply.

Industry watchers have said more companies will likely choose imported vaccines in the coming months, even if they face challenges. “The biggest issue will be cold chain logistics, but discussions are currently underway with logistics service providers for imports and last mile delivery,” said the CEO of a leading logistics company. plan, requesting anonymity. “But most customers are waiting. and watch for now, given the raging second wave. The government has already said there will be enough vaccines in the coming months. It remains to be seen if things will turn out that way, ”said the executive.

Among the pharmaceutical companies, Lupine is the most interested in importing vaccines – whether for its own employees or for sales. In an interview, chief executive Vinita Gupta said the drugmaker was in talks with vaccine makers such as Pfizer and Moderna for the import and distribution of vaccines, but had so far made no progress. . Of discussions with Moderna, Gupta said, “We contacted them and then they informed us that they had plans. But we don’t yet know what those plans are. “

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Vaccines that have not received an emergency use license in India should obtain ‘New Drug Authorization’ from CDSCO.pti

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