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India is unlikely to resume sizable Covid-19 vaccine exports until October: Sources | India News


NEW DELHI: India is unlikely to resume major Covid-19 vaccine exports until at least October as it diverts injections for home use, three government sources said, a longer-than-expected delay that will worsen supply shortages of the global COVAX initiative.
Fighting the world’s largest increase in coronavirus infections, India halted vaccine exports a month ago after donating or selling more than 66 million doses. The move has left countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and many in Africa scrambling for alternative supplies.
The World Health Organization, which co-leads COVAX, on Monday called on vaccine manufacturers outside of India to advance supplies to the program due to shortages in the South Asian country.
The sources, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media on the matter, said India’s vaccination campaign will now take priority as its coronavirus infection count surpasses 25 million and the Daily death toll reaches a record high. .
“We do not have to officially transmit to all countries, since we are not obliged to do so,” said one of the sources about the decision to stop exports. “It was discussed internally and some countries were asked not to wait for export commitments given the current Indian situation.”
The source did not name the countries informed of the delay.
The other two sources said the exact timing to resume exports could change depending on how soon India can control the second wave of cases that has overwhelmed the healthcare system.
The Foreign Ministry, which coordinates and oversees all vaccine exports, did not respond to a request for comment on the matter.
A spokesman for the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine maker, said the focus for now is on supplying vaccines to India. He had previously expected shipments to restart from June.
When asked about the October schedule, COVAX co-leader GAVI told Reuters that at least 140 million doses that he had expected from the Serum Institute by the end of May will now remain in India.
“As India faces a really terrible wave of the pandemic, India’s vaccine production, including the 140 million doses of vaccine initially destined for COVAX, has pledged to protect its own citizens,” said a spokeswoman for GAVI in an email.
“We offer the Government of India our full support in their effort to control the virus and we stand ready to help in any way we can.”
COVAX has an agreement with the Serum Institute to administer 1.1 billion doses of AstraZeneca or Novavax injections.
The UNICEF chief on Monday called on G7 countries to donate supplies to COVAX as an emergency measure to address a severe shortfall caused by disruptions in Indian vaccine exports.
UNICEF, which is helping supply Covid-19 vaccines through COVAX, estimates the supply shortfall at around 190 million by the end of June.
US President Joe Biden said Monday that his country would export at least 20 million doses of the Pfizer / BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson injections, in addition to 60 million doses of AstraZeneca that it had already planned to give to other countries.
Biden’s move came as WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that the world has reached a “vaccine apartheid” situation, and called on wealthier nations and vaccine producers to increase trade of vaccines.

Times of India