Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya received a thank you this morning from the World Health Organization chief as India announced its decision to resume the export and donations of excess vaccines from next month.
India – which has earned the title of pharmacy of the world is the biggest maker of vaccines overall – put a brake on vaccine exports in April to focus on inoculating its own population as a tidal wave of infections swept the country.
“Thank you Health Minister @mansukhmandviya for announcing #India will resume crucial #COVID19 vaccine shipments to #COVAX in October. This is an important development in support of reaching the 40% vaccination target in all countries by the end of the year. #VaccinEquity,” posted Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO chief.
Thank you Health Minister @mansukhmandviya for announcing #India will resume crucial #COVID19 vaccine shipments to #COVAX in October. This is an important development in support of reaching the 40% vaccination target in all countries by the end of the year. #VaccinEquity
— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) September 21, 2021
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the GAVI vaccine alliance are leading the COVAX facility, aimed at helping buy and distribute vaccination shots against the novel coronavirus fairly around the world.
The global supply of COVAX suffered a “big blow” after the cases exploded in India, Samantha Power, Administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), said in May.
The resumption of exports deliberations come ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Washington starting Tuesday where vaccines are likely to be discussed at a summit of the leaders of the Quad countries – the United States, India, Japan and Australia.
The renewed export drive, known as ‘Vaccine Maitri’, will prioritise the global vaccine-sharing platform COVAX and neighbouring countries first, Mr Mandaviya said.
India’s monthly vaccine output, Mr Madaviya said, has more than doubled since April and is set to quadruple to over 300 million doses next month.
Total production could top 100 crore in the last three months of the year as new vaccines from companies such as Biological E are likely to be approved, he said.
“We will help other countries and also fulfil our responsibility towards COVAX… Neighbouring (countries) first,” he told reporters, adding only excess supplies would be exported.
India donated or sold 6.6 crore doses to nearly 100 countries before the export halt.
Bharat Biotech, the producer of India’s first domestically developed shot, Covaxin, told Reuters its monthly output would nearly treble to 100 million doses by the end of the year.
On Monday, Mr Mandaviya told reporters that he expected overall domestic vaccine production to exceed 1 billion doses in the October-December quarter, which would be more than enough to meet domestic demand.