Why India Withheld AstraZeneca Oxford Vaccine Exports?
India is holding back its stock of the AstraZeneca vaccine doses as the cases are soaring high in the country. India has been one of the few nations that had agreed to large-scale export of the vaccine to neighboring nations.
India is also a part of the UN led Covax donation scheme where wealthier and developed nations had decided to donate some bit of their supply towards a vaccine bank. This bank would be used to ensure that poorer nations that cannot afford to develop or purchase a vaccine can get the dose free of cost.
With India holding back the supply, at least 64 lower-income countries are going to be affected. The AstraZeneca vaccine candidate was initially developed at UK’s Oxford University and was later being produced in bulk at the Serum Institute of India (SII).
Expressing its concerns, the UNICEF has said, “We understand that deliveries of Covid-19 vaccines to lower-income economies participating in the Covax facility will likely face delays following a setback in securing export licenses for further doses of Covid-19 vaccines produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII), expected to be shipped in March and April.”
The Foreign ministry website shows no movement of vaccine doses for exports. It is literally getting to become the fight of ‘each to its own’. 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.
Covax is supposed to be getting a shipment of 1.1billion doses of AstraZeneca and Novavax vaccine that is being produced in India. Meanwhile, India has already stopped the export of the AstraZeneca candidate to Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Morocco and Britain. Britain has had the worst case to deal with the constant spread of the Covid-19 variant too.