Reuters/ New Delhi
India will resume exports of Covid-19 vaccines in the October quarter, prioritising the global vaccine-sharing platform Covax and neighbouring countries first as supplies rise, the health minister said yesterday. India, the world’s biggest maker of vaccines, stopped exports of Covid shots in April to focus on inoculating its own population as infections exploded.
The country’s monthly vaccine output has since more than doubled and is set to quadruple to over 300mn doses next month, minister Mansukh Mandaviya said, adding that only excess supplies would be exported.
Total production could top 1bn 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,” he told reporters.
Media reported last week that the India government was considering restarting exports of Covid-19 vaccines soon.
The South Asian giant, dubbed the “pharmacy of the world”, was a major supplier to the Covax programme aimed at boosting immunisation in poorer nations.
It donated or sold 66mn doses to nearly 100 countries before the export halt.
The announcement on resumption of exports in the October to December quarter comes ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Washington this week where vaccines are likely to be discussed at a summit of the leaders of the Quad countries — the US, India, Japan and Australia.
India wants to vaccinate all its 944mn adults by December and has so far given at least one dose to 64% of them and two doses to 22%. The country hit a record 22mn coronavirus jabs in a day on Friday as part of a special vaccination drive for the birthday of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
India’s inoculations have jumped since last month, especially as the world’s biggest vaccine maker, the Serum Institute of India, has more than trebled its output of the AstraZeneca shot to 200mn doses a month from April levels. Indian companies have set up the capacity to produce nearly 3bn Covid vaccine doses a year.
India on Sunday conducted the lowest number of daily Covid-19 tests since mid-August, but the health ministry urged local governments not to let their guard down during the September to November festival season.
States and federally controlled territories carried out 1.18mn tests on Sunday, government data showed yesterday, down from 1.56mn on Saturday and against a capacity of more than 2mn.
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