Pfizer, India talk expedited COVID-19 vaccine approval to combat shortage

Pfizer’s CEO Albert Bourla announced Monday the company is in talks with the Indian government to fast track the approval process for its COVID-19 vaccine to address the country’s devastating coronavirus crisis and vaccine scarcities.

“Pfizer is aware that access to vaccines is critical to ending this pandemic,” Bourla said in a statement posted to LinkedIn Monday. “Unfortunately, our vaccine is not registered in India although our application was submitted months ago. We are currently discussing with the Indian government an expedited approval pathway to make our Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine available for use in the country.”

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India’s daily new coronavirus cases surged to repeated record highs last week, topping 400,000 new COVID-19 infections for the first time on Saturday and bringing total infections close to 20 million after logging over 300,000 cases for 12 consecutive days, Reuters reported. The country is woefully behind in its inoculation efforts, with about 9% of its 1.4 billion population vaccinated.

May 1, 2021: Body of a COVID-19 victim is wheeled in a ground that has been converted into a crematorium in New Delhi, India.

May 1, 2021: Body of a COVID-19 victim is wheeled in a ground that has been converted into a crematorium in New Delhi, India.
(AP Photo/Amit Sharma)

Bourla also announced Pfizer is donating over $70 million worth of medicines for patients battling COVID-19 across India’s public hospitals. These medicines treat inflammation, blood clotting and secondary bacterial infections. 

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“Right now, Pfizer colleagues at distribution centers in the U.S, Europe and Asia are hard at work rushing shipments of Pfizer medicines that the Government of India has identified as part of its COVID treatment protocol,” the CEO wrote, calling the response, including funding for  ventilators and oxygen concentrators, the company’s “most comprehensive humanitarian relief response ever.”

Fox News’ Alexandria Hein contributed to this report.

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