Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose Covid-19 vaccine has received emergency use approval in India, making it the fifth jab against coronavirus to be authorised in the country. However, there is uncertainty over starting of supplies as issues around indemnity against legal liabilities in case of severe adverse events are yet to be resolved.
“As of now, the government is not inclined to give indemnity to foreign manufacturers. We have our own manufacturers and vaccines, there is no reason why we should be arm-twisted,” a senior official said. The government is hopeful that ongoing talks with foreign manufacturers of Covid jabs will lead to fruitful resolution soon. J&J, Pfizer and Moderna may want to open a market in India. The government expects supplies to start from around September if negotiations go through with the company, the official said. The initial supplies could be 30 to 50 million doses a month.
J&J will supply the vaccine here through an agreement with Indian vaccine maker Biological E. However, the American firm said it is too early to indicate a timeline for supplies. “While we look forward to meeting our delivery commitments, it is premature for us to speculate on the timing of our vaccine deliveries,” J&J said in a statement.
“At this time, the company is only negotiating with government bodies and supranational organizations (e.g., European Commission, African Union, Gavi/COVAX) at a central level for vaccine procurement or purchase. We are not working with or through third parties for vaccine access during the current emergency pandemic period,” it said.
Currently, no individuals or private companies are authorised to offer, advertise, distribute or sell the Janssen Covid-19 vaccine on behalf of Johnson & Johnson, either directly or indirectly, the company said. Sources said Biological E can start local manufacturing and supply of J&J’s vaccine in India only if the American company agrees to follow the legal compensation norms of the country.