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Pfizer pushes India for ‘expedited’ vaccine approval amid COVID spike

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Pfizer is pushing India’s government for an “expedited approval pathway” for its COVID-19 vaccine — and announced a donation of medicines worth more than $70 million amid a catastrophic surge in infections in the country. 

“Unfortunately, our vaccine is not registered in India although our application was submitted months ago,” CEO Albert Bourla wrote a letter to his colleagues in India, which he shared on LinkedIn Monday. “We are currently discussing with the Indian government an expedited approval pathway to make our Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine available for use in the country.”

He also said that Pfizer employees in the US, Europe and Asia are working to ship medications that India’s government has approved as part of its COVID treatment protocol. 

“These medicines, valued at more than $70 million, will be made available immediately, and we will work closely with the government and our NGO partners to get them to where they are needed most,” he said. 

The news comes as India recorded 368,147 new COVID-19 cases and 3,417 new deaths on Monday. 

Since the start of the pandemic, 19.9 million cases of the virus have been reported in India — behind only the US, which has counted more than 32.4 million. 

More than 218,000 people in India have died of the virus, according to the health ministry.

However, experts believe both figures are significant undercounts. 

Leaders of 13 opposition parties have urged India’s government to launch a free vaccination drive and make sure that all hospitals receive an uninterrupted flow of oxygen. 

Several hospital authorities over the weekend sought court intervention over oxygen supplies in New Delhi, which has extended its lockdown by a week to contain the surge of infections. 

With Post wires

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