India’s delay in COVID-19 vaccine exports hit global supply
India’s decision to temporarily halt COVID-19 vaccine exports will impact global vaccination efforts
In view of surging Coronavirus cases at home, the Indian government has decided to restrict the exports of COVID-19 vaccines to other countries across the world. Keeping in mind that India became the world’s biggest exporter of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, the move is likely to impact the vaccination efforts of several poor and disadvantaged countries. It will further hamper the objective of the COVAX facility to provide essential vaccines to more than 150 participating nations to support their battle against the global health crisis.
The GAVI vaccine alliance, which is leading the COVAX facility, issued a statement on Thursday, notifying participating economies that deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII) will face delays during March-April as India is grappling with a new wave of Coronavirus.
“COVAX and the Government of India remain in discussions to ensure some supplies are completed during March and April,” the statement added.
From the United Kingdom to Djibouti, more than 70 countries have benefitted from “Made in India” vaccines in the first quarter of 2021. To date, more than 60 million COVISHIELD vaccine doses have been supplied by India to these countries under the COVAX facility and as part of its commercial deals. According to GAVI, 40 million additional vaccine doses were expected to arrive in March, while around 50 million doses were expected in April. However, an unprecedented rise in virus infections in the country has forced India to push back supplies to the WHO-led initiative.
As per reports, countries relying on India for vaccines have halted their vaccination campaign due to delays in delivery.
India is also facing criticism for the slow pace of its vaccination campaign at home. So far, around 55 million people have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccines in India, which is potentially lower in proportion to the country’s population of 1.35 billion. To address the crisis, the Centre last week expanded its vaccination campaign to include all people over the age of 45, starting from April 1. As the Indian healthcare sector gears to vaccinate more people in the country, domestic demand for the COVID-19 vaccine is going to rise.
In the wake of the second wave of Coronavirus in India, the government has intensified its COVID-19 protocols, including wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing.