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Pfizer Hits Deadlock With India Over Vaccine Indemnity Issue: Reuters

Pfizer Inc (NYSE: PFE) and the Indian government are at loggerheads over a demand by the company for legal protection from any claims linked to the use of its COVID-19 vaccine, said Reuters citing two sources.

What Happened: India has not given any manufacturer of a COVID-19 vaccine indemnity against the costs of compensation for any severe side effects.

"The whole problem with Pfizer is the indemnity bond. Why should we sign it?" an Indian government source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

"If something happens, a patient dies, we will not be able to question them (Pfizer). If somebody challenges in a court of law, the central government will be responsible for everything, not the company," the source added.

Pfizer declined to comment, citing ongoing discussions with the government.

The Indian health ministry also did not reply to Reuter's requests for comment.

The second source said Pfizer has been consistent in its position on indemnity and is not planning to change its approach for a deal with India.

Why It Matters: Last month, India pledged to fast-track approvals for overseas vaccine makers, including Pfizer, Moderna Inc (NASDAQ: MRNA), and Johnson and Johnson (NYSE: JNJ).

However, none have since sought permission from India's drug regulator to sell their vaccine in the country, which has a population of 1.35 billion.

Pfizer withdrew its application for emergency use authorization for the vaccine developed with BioNTech SE (NASDAQ: BNTX) in February after India insisted on a local trial.

Also, according to one more source, India's foreign minister would visit the U.S. this month or in early June to try and address Pfizer's concerns and ease exports of vaccine raw materials to India.

Price Action: PFE shares are down 0.15% at $40.06, while BNTX shares are down 1.33% at $201 during the market session on the last check Friday.

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