The executive director of the Indian pharmaceutical company, which dozens of countries are counting on to supply them with Covid-19 vaccines, said on Sunday that their deliveries could be delayed because they had been “directed”. to satisfy domestic needs before export orders.
“Dear countries and governments,” wrote Adar Poonawalla, Managing Director of the Serum Institute of India, in a tweet warning of delays. “I humbly ask you to be patient,” he wrote, adding that his company had been directed to “prioritize India’s enormous needs while balancing the needs of the rest of the world.” We give our best. ”
He didn’t say who made the policy, and the Serum Institute didn’t immediately return requests for comments.
India produces three-fifths of the world’s supply of vaccines of all types, and the country’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched one of the world’s largest and most ambitious vaccination campaigns to vaccinate the 1.3 billion people in India.
But even though the country is already running a huge vaccination program that delivers around 390 million shots for diseases like measles and tuberculosis in an average year, India is struggling to get Covid vaccinations to the population. Less than 1 percent of Indians have been vaccinated since mid-January. The pandemic has caused at least 10.9 million known coronavirus infections in India to date, more than any other country except the United States.
The country’s regulators have approved two vaccines: one developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University and manufactured by the Serum Institute, and another, which is still under study and made by the National Institute of Virology with Bharat Biotech, a local pharmaceutical company, that makes the cans was developed.
The Serum Institute will also administer doses of a vaccine developed by Novovax upon approval.
In addition to supporting supplies to India and other customers, the company is expected to produce hundreds of millions of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and more than a billion Novovax vaccines to be sold through the Covax global vaccination initiative to ensure 92 are low and medium – Income countries receive vaccines at the same time as the 98 richer countries in the world. Covax did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Mr Poonawalla’s warning that overseas would have to wait for vaccines.
Many developing countries want the AstraZeneca vaccine because it is much cheaper and easier to store and transport than other Covid vaccines currently in use. It is therefore also suitable for India’s extensive vaccination campaign, which must range from the towering Himalayan mountains to the dense jungle of southern India.
The Indian government, in competition with China, has increasingly harnessed the country’s capacity to manufacture vaccines as the currency for its international diplomacy, making gunfire a central part of its foreign relations. For example, last week India promised to donate 200,000 doses of vaccine to United Nations peacekeeping forces around the world.