India mulls vaccine export resumption with Africa in focus
Airport workers unload a shipping container with India-made Covishield vaccines at the Las Americas International Airport in Santo Domingo, on February 15, 2021. (Photo by ERIKA SANTELICES/afp/AFP via Getty Images)
INDIA, which halted its coronavirus vaccine exports after a devastating second wave wreaked havoc earlier this year, is considering resumption of the same soon, with an emphasis on Africa, Reuters reported citing informed sources.
The development took place after India has succeeded in partially immunising a majority of its adults and the supply of vaccines has surged. The world’s second most-populous country aims to vaccinate all of its 944 million adults by December and has so far administered at least a dose to 61 per cent of them.
The deliberations over resumption of exports came ahead of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Washington next week. Vaccines are likely to feature when the leaders of the four Quad nations – the US, Australia and Japan besides India – meet.
ALSO READ: India gave more Covid jabs than G7 nations combined in August
“The export decision is a done deal,” the source said on the condition of anonymity, adding, “India wants to help out Africa with both vaccines and its COVID operational model.”
One of the senior officials of India’s ministry of external affairs, which coordinates the countries vaccine exports, met with the chief of the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Monday (13). On Tuesday (14), the WHO said it was in constant talks with the Indian officials to resume supplies to COVAX, the global vaccine-sharing platform.
‘India may be entering Covid endemic stage’
“We have been assured that supply will restart this year,” senior WHO official Bruce Aylward said in a briefing, adding, “We are hoping we can get an assurance it can start even faster than later this year, and in the coming weeks.”
Prior to suspending its export, India donated or sold 66 million doses to nearly 100 countries.
In June, a government source told Reuters that America’s experience showed that vaccinations tend to slow down after a majority of people get jabbed. That situation in India might create an opportunity to export its excess output.
India’s vaccination drive has taken a big leap since August, especially with the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, more than doubled its output of the AstraZeneca shot to 150 million doses a month from what it was in April.
India’s deliberations were also aided by the African Union’s plea. The body on Tuesday accused manufacturers of denying them a fair opportunity to purchase vaccines and asked various countries, particularly India, to lift their restrictions on exporting the jab.