Analysis: India changes from vaccine exporter to importer on a large scale

coronavirus vaccine India

On Thursday, India recorded 200,739 infections in the last 24 hours, the seventh daily record in the past eight days, while 1,038 deaths took their toll at 173,123. Its tally of 14.1 million infections ranks second after the United States.

After gifting and selling millions of COVID-19 vaccines abroad, India suddenly finds itself short of shots as a new transition to the world’s second-most populous country.

India on Thursday violated 200,000 daily infections for the first time and is trying to get more of its population vaccinated using domestically manufactured shots.

Facing growing cases and overflow hospitals following lockdown restrictions, it also abruptly changed regulations to allow them to import vaccines as quickly as possible, which already included foreign pharmaceutical manufacturers such as Pfizer.

It will import Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine starting this month to cover 125 million people.

The vicissitudes of fate can hamper the epidemic and India’s fight to stay in the more than 60 emerging countries, mainly in Africa, for months.

The COVAX program, supported by the World Health Organization and the Gavi Vaccine Alliance, aims for similar vaccine outreach worldwide. India is heavily reliant on the supply of pharmaceutical powerhouses in Asia.

But so far this month, India has exported only 1.2 million vaccine doses. According to data from the Ministry of External Affairs, the comparison of 64 million doses shipped abroad between the end of January and March.

An official aware of India’s vaccine strategy said the available shots would be used domestically while the country faced an “emergency“.

“There is no commitment to other countries,” he said.

India’s Foreign Ministry, which oversees vaccine deals with other countries, said last week that Indian demand would determine the level of exports.

The lack of results is already being felt in some countries in the COVAX scheme and a U. involved in the vaccine rollout in Africa. N. The health official said: “Trusting a manufacturer so much is a big concern.”

John Nekengsong, director of the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said that delays in supplies from India earlier this month could be “catastrophic”.

Miss-Steps

Four sources involved in the discussion on vaccine supply and procurement said factors including delays in ordering firms by India and COVAX, lack of investment in production, shortage of raw materials and reduced coronavirus growth at home contributed to the lack of vaccination have contributed.

Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, vowed to deliver nearly half and low-income COVID-19 shots to low- and middle-income countries by the end of 2021.

But it has come under pressure to meet other governments’ needs, including the UK, Canada and Saudi Arabia, amidst AstraZeneca’s global production problems.

Meanwhile, the United States shut down the supply of key equipment and raw materials for its own vaccine manufacturers, its goals of limiting SII’s operations and increasing monthly production from 100 million to 70 million by months of delay. Said while delaying. The source

Two sources said that SII has another initial hurdle for supply ambitions.

However, this could have allowed the AstraZeneca vaccine production to be promoted, even though regulators still had to approve it.

According to sources, about two weeks after AstraZeneca shot was approved by India’s drug regulator, India discussed the initial purchase order, discussing the final price per dose.

At one point, SII ran out of space to store the doses produced.

SII chief executive Adar Poonawalla told Reuters in January,

“That’s why I decided not to pack more than 50 million doses because I knew that if I packed more than that,

I would have to store it in my house. ”

He said he spent 20 billion rupees ($ 272 million) on the 50 million doses that the company started stockpiling around October.

Even now, the government makes ad-hoc purchases from SII instead of only agreeing on a long-term supply schedule, one of the sources said.

SII has sought more than $ 400 million from the government to increase capacity but has not yet committed.

Also Read: Karthikeya, Son of CM Shivraj Singh Chauhan, became corona positive, Karthikeya isolated himself.

The Department of Health and the Ministry of External Affairs did not respond to requests for comment on funding, purchase delays and other aspects of India’s vaccination rollout.

COVAX conundrum

COVAX also stated that green-light shipments had not been made to countries participating from SII until WHO approval was received in mid-February, a source involved in COVAX’s initiative said.

The source said those delays meant that the millions of additional doses that SII could produce between October and February never materialized.

Gavi defended his decision to wait for proper approval before pursuing the firm’s orders. And while it is looking for more suppliers, it is still dependent on India’s vaccine manufacturers, accounting for around 60% of the global supply.

COVAX has signed a deal to purchase more than 1 billion doses from SII.

But it has received a fifth of less than 100 million, or so the dose of the SII-produced AstraZeneca vaccine was expected by May.

SII is also believed to make millions of doses of Novavax shot for COVAX.

Gavi had hoped that SII would resume full vaccine delivery to COVAX in May, but on Wednesday, it said India’s COVID-19 crisis could impact that.

“We understand the pace of the virus in India at present, yet we hope and expect deliveries to resume as soon as possible,” it said in an email to Reuters.

On Thursday, India recorded 200,739 infections in the last 24 hours, the seventh daily record in the past eight days, while 1,038 deaths took their toll at 173,123.

Its tally of 14.1 million infections ranks second after the United States.

Originally aiming to cover 300 million of its most at-risk people, or a fifth of its 1.35 billion population, by August, the government now expanded another 100 million with promises to widen it further. Have done

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