India could ship COVAX vaccines in weeks, sources say


A health official takes a dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India, at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Colombo, Sri Lanka on January 29, 2021. REUTERS / Dinuka Liyanawatte

NEW DELHI, Nov. 9 (Reuters) – India could resume deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines to the global COVAX vaccine sharing platform in a few weeks for the first time since April, two industry sources said of health, putting an end to a supply suspension that has hurt poor countries.

The World Health Organization (WHO), which co-leads COVAX, has urged India to restart the program’s supply, especially after sending around 4 million doses to its neighbors and partners in October.

Based on an informal approval from India, COVAX officials have started planning Covishield shooting allocations for various countries, said one of the sources, both of whom are refusing to be identified pending. of a final agreement.

Covishield is a licensed version of the AstraZeneca vaccine (AZN.L) manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer.

SII has nearly quadrupled its production of Covishield to 240 million doses per month since April, when India halted all exports in order to vaccinate its own population in a spate of cases.

“There will have to be purchase orders confirmed to SII, labeling and packaging, export authorization granted for each of these shipments,” the source said. “So the first deliveries, assuming the Indian government grants an export license, will only take place in a few weeks.”

A WHO spokesperson said in an email that a new COVAX supply forecast will be released next week. SII and the Indian Ministry of Health did not respond to requests for comment.

The ministry said in a statement earlier today that Indian states had more than 159 million unused doses of various vaccines as inoculations slowed after 79% of the country’s 944 million adults received a dose and 37% received two doses.

SII CEO Adar Poonawalla told Reuters last month that the company could send 20-30 million doses per month to COVAX in November and December, which would rise to “high volumes” from January once that India’s own needs would be met. Read more

WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said friday that COVAX had the money and the contracts to buy vaccines for low-income countries but “the manufacturers have not played their part.”

COVAX reduced its 2021 delivery target in September by nearly 30% to 1.425 billion doses. Read more

Reporting by Krishna N. Das Editing by Robert Birsel

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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