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Pfizer says vaccine highly effective against Indian covid strain, puts condition of indemnity

US’s Pfizer is “highly effective” in fighting the Indian strain of coronavirus that is believed to be the cause for the massive second wave in the nation, the drugmaker told the Centre on Wednesday.  

The vaccine is appropriate for everyone above 12 years of age, Pfizer said while adding that at a temperature of 2-8 degrees Celsius, the shots can be stored for a month in cold storage units.  

The pharmaceutical giant remains in discussions with the Centre to fast-track the emergency use approval and send 5 crore shots of their vaccine to India during June and October. However, this comes at a price of indemnification, meaning that the company cannot be sued on any compensation claims if any adverse reactions occur.

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The chain of meetings held during the past weeks between the Indian government and Pfizer witnessed the presence of the company’s chairman and CEO Albert Bourla as well to solve many matters, protection from legal indemnity included.  

Notably, out of the 3 vaccines approved and rolled out in India currently- Covishield, Covaxin and Sputnik V- none have been granted any such relief. But Pfizer did receive protection from all the other countries that are using its vaccine, including the United States, UK and other European countries, as the business house insisted on it.  

Pfizer’s claim of being suitable for children aged 12 comes as a first because neither of the 3 approved vaccines has been cleared for people below 18 years of age. However, by the end of May, Covaxin is likely to commence clinical trials for the 2-18 age group. 

Though children and young adults became less than 10 per cent of the new cases reported in May, some experts said they could be hit the most in the third wave, more so as the weekly data showed a steady increase in this percentile. 

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Pfizer told the Centre that it should “rely on the 44 authorisations, including WHO approval (to) facilitate emergency use authorisation…,” as quoted by the PTI. Nevertheless, it is willing to keep the first 100 individuals inoculated with its vaccine under observation. The data from the pharmaceutical giant said that its vaccine is 95 percent effective against covid-19. 

The data backing Pfizer’s claims of its vaccine being effective against the Indian strain of coronavirus comes from an observational study from the UK’s Public Health England. The results showed Pfizer vaccine’s 87.9 per cent protection offering against the B.1.617.2 variant found in India. Out of all the volunteers, 26 percent were of “Indian or British Indian” ethnicity.  

Procurement through a central government pathway and regulatory requirement for post-approval bridging studies make up the other issues to expedite its approval. 

Earlier in April, the Centre said it was ready to accelerate the approval for foreign-manufactured vaccines, including Pfizer and Moderna.