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Hospitals body on verge of deal with J&J for one-dose vaccine supply from July

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The Association of Healthcare Providers (India), a body that represents small and medium hospitals, is close to striking a deal for procuring vaccines from Johnson & Johnson (J&J). AHPI expects the jabs to be delivered early next month and this could be the first vaccine developed by a US company that will be available in India.

J&J has offered this single-shot vaccine at $25 (approximately ₹1,875) per dose, which AHPI is negotiating. The initial supply will be small and could be gradually scaled up. “J&J, through its logistics partner in the US, has proposed to supply some doses of vaccine to us,” AHPI director general Girdhar Gyani told ET. “They have offered the vaccine at $25 but we are trying to negotiate the price.”

“As it’s a single-shot jab, it is convenient and even at this price, it is competitive. Leading private hospitals have shown interest,” said AHPI’s Gyani.

Private hospitals are charging Rs 780 per dose of Covishield, Rs 1,410 per dose of Covaxin and Rs 1,145 per dose of Sputnik.

The J&J vaccine had been hailed as a breakthrough jab in the US because it has to be administered only once and is easy to store. However, its demand fell after it was linked to a rare blood clotting disorder and the US authorities paused its use for 10 days in April.

Subsequently, in an unrelated development, 60 million doses of the vaccine were disallowed for use because of possible contamination at a manufacturing facility.

J&J’s importer in India will apply for required regulatory clearances from the drug regulatory authority.

Gyani said the first lot was expected early next month and will be available at private hospitals soon. Under the new guidelines, vaccines that have been approved by the World Health Organization or the regulatory authorities of the US, UK, European Union and Japan, are cleared by the Indian authorities within four days. Individual batches of such imported vaccines don’t need to be tested or inspected by Indian authorities either.

“We are hopeful that the regulatory clearances won’t take much time, given that the drug regulator has made it easy,” said Gyani.

AHPI is also trying to procure J&J vaccines from the quota reserved by the European Union for lower- and middle-income countries.

Gyani had earlier told ET that J&J’s vaccine was most suitable for a vast country such as India. “It is a viral vector vaccine which requires only one dose, as opposed to two doses. It does not need to be stored frozen. This is most suitable for far-flung areas, specially tier II-III areas, which face challenges regarding vaccine hesitancy and storage, among others,” he said.

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