India likely to recommence export of COVID vaccine as supply jumps

With India’s rising output of COVID-19 vaccines and more than half of its adult population vaccinated with at least one dose, the nation hopes to make a comeback as an exporter within months, ramping up supply from early next year.

Being a helping aid and donating or selling 66 million doses to nearly 100 countries, India in the middle of April had to stop the export of vaccines and focus on the domestic immunization as COVID cases rapidly increased. This step upset the inoculation plans of many African and South Asian countries.

However, after April the national vaccine production more than doubled and is set to continue the trend as New production lines have been set up in the nation.

A vaccine developed by Cadila Healthcare has recently won approval, and commercial production of Russia’s Sputnik V is also commencing in India.

Bharat Biotech, on Sunday inaugurated a new factory with a production capacity of 10 million doses a month. It said it was “marching towards” a goal of a total annual capacity of about 1 billion doses of the drug, Covaxin. 

In addition, the Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s biggest vaccine maker, is now producing about 150 million doses a month of its version of the AstraZeneca shot, more than twice its April output of about 65 million, a source aware of the matter informed.

This increased volume indicates that the nation is most likely to focus on the vaccine exports once again.  SII, had previously indicated exports could resume by year-end.

“No fixed timeline on exports but the company hopes to restart in a few months,” said the source, who declined to be named without approval to talk on the matter.

The Global vaccine sharing platform COVAX also expects India to restart foreign sales sooner than later.

“With successful national vaccination and the arrival of more products, we are hoping that Indian supply to COVAX will resume as quickly as possible,” a spokesperson for the platform’s co-lead GAVI told Reuters in an email.

India, a major international producer of many other vaccines, could play a “similarly transformative role in the global response to COVID-19,” the spokesperson said.

While the nation looks to export the surplus of vaccines the Infection in the nation is once again on a rise after an explosive outbreak in April and May. But the country has administered more than 633 million vaccine doses, with at least one dose to 52% of its 944 million adults and two doses to more than 15%.

As per the chief of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party this month India could produce as many as 1.1 billion vaccine doses between September and December, which will be enough to fully immunise all adults in the country this year.

So far India given emergency authorisation to six COVID-19 shots, and four of them are being produced locally. Another domestic vaccine is expected to get the go ahead from the centre soon while many still are undergoing trials.

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