'Should be granted same cover': Serum Institute of India seeks indemnity from govt

FPJ News ServiceUpdated: Thursday, June 03, 2021, 11:45 PM IST
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SII CEO Adar Poonawalla | Twitter/ @adarpoonawalla

Trust Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), which manufactures Covishield, to take a cue from Pfizer and Moderna and join the indemnity bandwagon.

Amid reports that the Indian government may grant legal immunity to Pfizer and Moderna, the Serum Institute on Thursday also asked for protection from liability, saying all vaccine makers, whether Indian or foreign, should be granted the same cover.

Both Pfizer and Moderna have made immunity from legal proceedings, accruing from aftereffects of the use of vaccine, as a pre-condition for their rollout in India. The two are among the best shots in the international market and more than 90 per cent effective; they have been approved by more than 40 countries, including US and Britain.

A top official has said that “there is no issue” in granting indemnity to the two pharma giants in India but the approval will be in tandem with the approach adopted by the US and other countries which are administering both vaccines.

It is understood that countries like the US have granted indemnity from liability to Covid vaccine manufacturing companies, to guard against the possibility of something going wrong with their vaccines. They cannot be sued for compensation if there are any adverse effects from the shot.

Serum is hoping that rules would be same for everyone. The institute produces Covishield (the Indian name for the AstraZeneca-Oxford jab) and is involved in trials for three new anti-Covid vaccines. It has also applied to the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) seeking to manufacture the Russian 'Sputnik V' Covid-19 vaccine in India. 'Sputnik V' is currently being imported by Dr Reddy's Laboratories.

Till date, no Indian vaccine company has ever paid indemnity and neither has the Central government, the biggest vaccine user, done so.

Recently, a Rs 5 crore legal notice was served against SII’s Covishield trials. The victim had alleged severe neurological side effects. However, SII called the allegations malicious and misconceived.

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