Reliance Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries, has sought the government’s authorisation to import 20 lakh doses of US-based Johnson and Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine for captive consumption and to inoculate its workforce pan India, sources said. In a recent communication to the Union Health Ministry, Reliance Foundation has said the imported Johnson and Johnson vaccine will be administered within the organization only and not at all be used for commercial purpose, sources said. The Foundation may source additional quantities too, the company is learnt to have communicated.
It may also explore the possibilities of importing jabs from other vaccine producers in the future and the same will be used for internal purposes only, the organisation has said. Led by Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) Chairman Mukesh Ambani’s wife Nita Ambani, Reliance Foundation was set up in 2010 to provide impetus to various philanthropic initiatives of RIL.
The Foundation has told the government that during the unprecedented pandemic, it has strived to stand shoulder-to-shoulder to provide all possible relief support to the society at large by setting up COVID-19 hospitals and care centres and providing free meals. “Reliance Foundation will import and receive the shipment of Johnson and Johnson’s Janssen Covid-19 vaccine from the USA with the purpose of captive consumption and to administer our entire workforce pan India. Import of this vaccine shall be administered within the organization only and not at all for commercial purpose," a source quoted Reliance Foundation as having communicated to the ministry.
Pointing out that several hospitals are owned by it in India, the Foundation said this has made it acquainted with the vaccine in terms of shortage of requirements, transportation and distribution. Johnson and Johnson had in April said it has sought an approval from the India’s drug regulator to conduct a bridging clinical trial of its single-dose COVID-19 vaccine in the country.
The US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) had in February approved Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine that works with just one dose for emergency use. In a series of high-level meetings chaired by the Cabinet Secretary last month on the availability of vaccines in the global as well as domestic markets, it was conveyed that there are limited prospects of Johnson and Johnson exporting its vaccine from the US to other countries in the near future and the “entire production" at Biological E facilities in India, beginning July/August, will be handed over to the pharma giant under a contract between the companies.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), along with the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), has been asked to work on securing a part of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, to be manufactured by Biological E, for the Indian market, the sources said.