Vaccine makers must provide required cooling infra: BMC

The BMC on Wednesday floated a global expression of interest (EOI) for procurement of 1 crore vaccine doses, becoming the first corporation in the country to invite global tender for vaccine purchase.

The BMC has said that vaccine manufacturers bidding to supply vaccines to Mumbai will have to create their own cooling infrastructure if the vaccine requires storage below 2-8 degree Celsius.

The BMC on Wednesday floated a global expression of interest (EOI) for procurement of 1 crore vaccine doses, becoming the first corporation in the country to invite global tender for vaccine purchase.

Civic officials said that for storage and temperature requirements other than that available with the BMC, the applicant will have to provide the required storage facility for the vaccines. “If any vaccine requires storage beyond 2-8 degree Celsius, they have to create their own cold storage infrastructure. The payment for creating the facility will be done separately,” said P Velrasu, Additional Municipal Commissioner (Projects).

In the tender, the BMC has made clear its own cold storage facilities: two walk-in-coolers (WIC) with 40 cubic metre capacity each at Kanjurmarg in the eastern suburbs. The temperature of these WICs is maintained between 2 and 8 degree Celsius.

While Covishield, Covaxin, Moderna, Sputnik V, Johnson and Johnson vaccines can be stored in temperatures between 2 and 8 degrees for up to 30 days, Pfizer needs to be stored at a lower temperature of minus 80 to minus 60 degrees and can be kept between 2 to 8 degrees for only a period of five days.

BMC has said that there will be more clarity on whether the tender needs any changes when they receive mails for bidders. While the last date of sending queries for the tender is May 16, the BMC will open EOI by May 18. The tender document also clarified that the schedule of EOI is tentative and BMC may change any or the entire schedule by intimating the participants.

No Chinese company will be allowed to take part in the tender. The civic body has said that along with Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India (SII), the BMC is eyeing vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, Sputnik and Johnson and Johnson.

In India so far, apart from Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and SII’s Covishield, Russia’s Sputnik V has approval from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI). On Thursday, NITI Ayog member Dr V K Paul said that while the first batch of Sputnik V is expected to arrive by next week, the manufacturing with the help of Dr Reddy’s will start by July. Paul also said that the Indian government is interacting with other manufacturers of vaccines like Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson for emergency use in India.

The BMC has made it clear in the tender that it will not make advance payment to the bidder. When asked if the clause of payment to bidder after only after supply of vaccine could hurt the BMC’s chances, Velrasu said, “In our EOI we have not kept the clause of security deposit and earnest money deposit. But payment will be released according to the supply.”

Due to shortage of vaccines, many countries have offered to pay in advance to manufacturers to secure the doses.

Regarding the ban on Chinese vaccines, the BMC said that there is an issue of transparency. “Other vaccines are in use for the last several months and there are details on manufacturing, trials, data of effectiveness of vaccines, but in the case of Chinese vaccines there is very little we know,” said a senior official.

“It is our (BMC) prerogative to decide whom to allow to bid. If we don’t get a response from an early player, then we will see,” said Velrasu.

Although the BMC did not hold any discussion to check about the availability with any of the manufacturers of vaccines before floating the EOI, sources said that the Sputnik V would be able to provide the quantity BMC required. A facilitator supplying Sputnik V had earlier inquired about BMC’s global tender, said an official from BMC.

The tender condition also allows wholesalers and distributors to participate apart from vaccine manufacturers. It further states that the bidder should have its own manufacturing licence and hold a valid WHO’s Goods Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certificate.

The supplier would need to take permission from the DCGI, which is mandatory for vaccine distribution in India.

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