India resumes vaccine exports after two-thirds of its adult population receives first dose


India, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of Covid-19 vaccines, has resumed bilateral vaccine exports after a seven-month hiatus now that two-thirds of its adult population have received their first dose.

Over the past week, Delhi exported around four million doses of the nationally made vaccine to Iran, Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar – all developing countries that have battled vaccine shortages.

In early 2021, India steadfastly pursued a soft power policy of vaccine diplomacy to counter the growing regional influence of neighboring China.

Until a ban was enforced in March, it had exported around 60 million doses to other countries in South Asia and the World Health Organization’s vaccine-sharing program, Covax.

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But, India was then devastated by a second wave of Covid-19 in late spring – driven by the more Delta variant and exacerbated because few of its 1.38 billion citizens had been vaccinated – so the doses were selected to meet domestic demand.

Public pressure had also rapidly increased on the Indian government to step up its stuttering vaccination program, which initially suffered from production and logistics delays, rather than scoring political points internationally. . A decision to export five million doses to the wealthy UK has aroused considerable anger.

However, vaccine production in India has accelerated rapidly since the spring. This is largely due to the Serum Institute of India (SII), which manufactures AstraZeneca / Oxford University’s “Covishield” vaccine, scaling up to 200 million doses per month. More than two-thirds of Indian adults have now received their first dose.

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While exports are expected to pick up only slowly in October, they are expected to increase significantly by January. The Indian government estimates its monthly domestic dose production will increase to 300-320 million in January, as other locally developed vaccines gain regulatory approvals.

Currently, India administers an average of 210 million doses each month and this expected surplus can therefore be exported.
“As India’s needs are met, there will be a generous supply of vaccines in the future,” said VK Paul, who heads the Indian government task force on Covid-19.

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“A huge, huge vaccine availability can be visualized for next year, we expect India-made vaccines to play an important role in combating the pandemic across the globe.”

Last week, IIC CEO Adar Poonawalla said The telegraph that his company remained committed to supplying one billion doses of its Covishield vaccine to Covax by the end of 2002.

Mr Poonawalla said the IBS would prioritize low-income countries around the world through Covax rather than selling doses to be used as booster shots in developed countries.

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