‘Infection surge delays India’s big exports of AstraZeneca shots’

Supplies to GAVI-WHO-backed COVAX to be affected: sources

India has put a temporary hold on all major exports of the AstraZeneca coronavirus shots made by the Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s biggest vaccine-maker, to meet domestic demand as infections rise, two sources told Reuters.

The move will also affect supplies to the GAVI/WHO-backed COVAX vaccine-sharing facility through which more than 180 countries are expected to get doses, one of the sources said.

COVAX has so far received 17.7 million AstraZeneca doses from the SII, of the 60.5 million doses India has shipped in total, and many countries are relying on the programme to immunise their citizens. There have been no vaccine exports from India since Thursday, the Foreign Ministry’s website https://www.mea.gov.in/vaccine-supply.htm shows, as the country expands its own immunisation effort.

“Everything else has taken a backseat, for the time being at least,” said one of the sources. Both sources had direct knowledge of the matter, but declined to be named as the discussions are not public.

“No exports, nothing till the time the India situation stabilises. The government won’t take such a big chance at the moment when so many need to be vaccinated in India.” The Foreign Ministry and the SII did not immediately reply to requests for comment. The SII has already delayed shipments of the AstraZenecadrug to Brazil, Britain, Morocco and Saudi Arabia. UNICEF, the U.N. children’s agency that is procuring and distributing vaccines for COVAX, had no comment.

COVAX has a deal to buy 1.1 billion doses of the AstraZeneca and Novavax shots that the SII is making.

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