When in the first week of February this year, Pfizer decided to withdraw its application for Emergency Use Authorisation of its Covid-19 vaccine in India, many conjectured that Pfizer's India chapter was closed for good.
At this time, the Pfizer spokesperson said, "In pursuance of the Emergency Use Authorisation of its Covid-19 vaccine, Pfizer participated in the Subject Expert Committee meeting of the Drug Regulatory Authority of India on February 3. Based on the deliberations at the meeting and our understanding of additional information that the regulator may need, the company has decided to withdraw its application at this time."
Pfizer steps in, seeks approval
However, only that chapter has been opened again, for good. On Monday, as part of its social responsibility gesture, the company announced relief efforts for India. "Today we have announced we are mobilizing the largest humanitarian relief effort in our company's history to help the people of India fight the vicious second wave of coronavirus that is currently ravaging the nation," the company posted on its social media handles with a message from Albert Bourla, chairman and chief executive officer.
"Our hearts go out to the people of India who are facing an incredible humanitarian crisis as one of the worst waves of Covid-19 pandemic ravages their country," he said, adding, that the immediate need is to treat those who are suffering in hospitals across the country.
"We are mobilising the largest humanitarian relief effort in our company's history. We are committed to providing urgent and immediate support to patients being treated in public hospitals. Right now Pfizer colleagues at distribution centres are hard at work rushing Pfizer medicines that the government of India has defined as part of Covid-19 treatment protocol."
Relief efforts for the next 90 days
In a lengthy message specifying the timeline for these relief efforts, he also said, "We are donating enough of these medicines to every Covid-19 patient in every public hospital across India and get access to them in the next 90 days free of charge. This includes steroid medications to reduce inflammation, anti-coagulants to help prevent blood clotting and antibiotic that treat secondary bacterial infections."
He further quantified the amount of relief assistance provided to India. "This effort has the potential to impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of patients across India over the next 90 days. These medicines valued at more than $70 million will be made available immediately and we'll work closely with the government and our NGO partners to get them to where they are needed most. Pfizer is aware that access to vaccines is critical to ending this pandemic. Unfortunately, our vaccine is not registered in India although our application was submitted months ago."
Pfizer in talks with the Government
The chief executive officer also added that the talks are on with Government of India to seek immediate approval for its vaccine. "We are currently discussing with Indian government an immediate approval to make Pfizer vaccine available for use in the country."