What Happened to Global COVID Vaccine Tenders Floated by States?
Nearly half a year after the COVID vaccine was first approved, many states continue to report a vaccine shortage.
The two waves of the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged many parts of the country as they came amid an acute paucity of life-saving resources, including that of COVID-19 vaccines.
Despite nearly half a year having passed since a COVID vaccine was first approved, months after India started exporting shots to other nations, and amid concerns over a potential third-wave, many states continue to report a vaccine shortage.
Amid the crippling shortage, with the Centre having left it to the states to vaccinate the section of their population aged 18 and above, many, including Maharashtra, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Kerala, have floated global tenders for vaccines.
So what is the update on some of these global tenders? Have they attracted any bidders?
Eight companies have shown interest in Maharashtra government’s global tenders for the procurement of 50 million doses of COVID vaccines, reported India Today, on Wednesday, 2 June.
- The eight expressions of interest (EOI) have come from companies based in India, as well as in UAE, Switzerland, the US, Mexico and Australia.
- These companies have shown interest in providing Russia’s Sputnik V, as well as vaccines developed by Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca and Moderna.
Denying reports which said that the Maharashtra government was about to stop the tendering process, state Health Minister Rajesh Tope also told India Today:
“The process to procure vaccines is on track. We have received good response to our global tender. Most of the companies that have shown interest in the bidding process are facilitators. Once documentation is completed by these companies, we will be proceeding further.”
However, Tope added that as far as procurement of the vaccines is concerned, the Union Health Ministry should provide more clarity.
Meanwhile, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), has, on its part, rejected COVID-19 vaccine procurement proposals of nine companies over lack of "proper" documents. BMC is now in talks with Dr. Reddy's Laboratories for supply of the Russian Sputnik vaccine. Dr Reddy's Lab has assured that it will provide some stock of Sputnik to BMC on an experimental basis by the end of June.
The Delhi government floated its first global tender for 10 million doses of COVID vaccines on 27 May.
Further, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government said that it will accept bids till 7 June.
The global expression of interest (EOI) read that “international manufacturers of COVID-19 vaccines or their authorised distributers or importers with appropriate licenses to import the COVID vaccines are eligible to participate in the EOI”.
It also said that a vaccine maker interested in supplying to the capital will need to commit to begin deliveries in tranches within 45 days of a contract being signed.
The document further stated that firms from any country can supply to Delhi unless they share borders with India. This condition keeps China from expressing interest in selling vaccines to India.
Failing to get any response from vaccine manufacturers twice, the Uttar Pradesh government has yet again extended its deadline for submission of bids to 10 June.
The state government had, earlier in May, floated a global tender for procurement of four crore COVID vaccine doses.
Meanwhile, The Indian Express has quoted Additional Chief Secretary (Information) Navneet Sehgal as saying:
“While six vaccine manufacturers had shown interest and had attended the pre-bid meeting, we had also made amendments in the tender based on their feedback. Since no bid was submitted till 31 May, we have decided to extend the last date further and give some more time to the vaccine manufacturers.”
Sehgal, also, according to The Indian Express, claimed that the wait for bidders will not affect the state’s ongoing vaccination drive.
The Odisha government, which was scheduled to open technical and price bids for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines from the international market on 28 May, has extended its global tender process by seven days. The government has informed the media that this extension comes "in view of requests from many prospective vendors, cyclones and also for greater participation.”
As per the revised schedule, the final date for online bid submission, opening of technical bid and opening of price bid was fixed for 4 June.
Meanwhile, local media reports, on Thursday, 4 June, said that the state has received two bids in its global tender and is in the process of reviewing it.
The state of Andhra Pradesh has received no bids for its global tender for procurement of vaccines for one crore people, floated on 13 May.
In a letter stating that India’s COVID vaccine situation has transformed into a “States vs Union” and asking Chief Ministers of several states to “speak in a single voice”, Andhra Pradesh CM YS Jagan Mohan Reddy wrote:
“The date of submission of bids (to AP government) was 3 June until 5 pm, but to my dismay no one quoted…”
The Rajasthan government is slated to move the apex court seeking directions to the Centre to float global tenders for procurement of COVID-19 vaccines, after the global tender issued by the state failed to yield desired results.
As per The Hindu, nine parties, including those claiming to be authorised agents of AstraZeneca and Sputnik, had sent their quotes to the state government.
However, the rates quoted by the interested firms turned out to be much higher than the present market prices of the jabs.
The Tamil Nadu Medical Services Corporation (TNMSC) floated a global tender for 3.5 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccines on 15 May. The last date for the submission of bids is 5 June.
The tender document, uploaded on TNMSC website, says the submitted tenders will be opened at the Corporation.
According to PTI, the state government has sought a delivery schedule of 180 days progressively from the date of purchase order.
Two firms had submitted tenders to supply the Sputnik V and Sputnik Lite vaccines, in response to the Karnataka government’s EOI. However, as per PTI, they have not yet submitted their requisite documents and hence, the government has decided to purchase vaccines directly from other manufacturing companies.
A PTI report from 26 May had also cited sources as saying that no bids had come from any of the major vaccine manufacturers.
The Yediyurappa-government had floated the tender to procure two crore COVID-19 vaccines.
The Kerala Medical Services Corporation (KMSCL) has floated a global tender for three crore doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. The technical bid for the same will be opened on 5 June.
The vaccine supplied by bidders ought be as per the Indian Council for Medical Research, the Kerala EOI specifies, amid other conditions. Additionally the companies should be in a position to maintain and provide the cold storage requirement, if the vaccine demands it.
(With inputs from The Indian Express, The Hindu and PTI.)
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