The Indian government has said it will speed up approvals of overseas-made vaccines, and on Wednesday, the Biden administration said it would support the lifting of intellectual property protection for Covid-19 vaccines in order to increase supplies for low-income countries.
But a waiver is expected to gain unanimous support from the World Trade Organization – and even then, experts say, Indian pharmaceutical companies would need significant technological and other support to produce doses.
“The drop in intellectual property protections is just one element,” Anant Bhan, health researcher at Melaka Manipal Medical College in southern India, said of intellectual property. Because of the extra steps needed to start manufacturing a vaccine on a large scale, he said, “This will not mean increased access to vaccines in the near future.”
As Modi has refused to impose a national lockdown like the one he instituted last year, states have adopted their own measures. The southern state of Kerala, which has one of the biggest files, on Thursday announced a near-total lockdown until May 16.
Experts also fear that a crisis could unfold in rural areas of India, where testing capacity is even more limited.
“My main concern is the unavailability of tests and the logistics of not having people tested in rural areas,” said Gautam Menon, professor of physics and biology at Ashoka University in northern India. . “So we will never get the real numbers of infection rates or deaths in many parts of India.”
The US State Department has approved the departure of family members of US government employees from India and urges US citizens to take advantage of commercial flights out of the country. He said on Wednesday he would approve the voluntary departure of non-emergency U.S. government workers.
Sri Lanka became the latest country to ban travelers from India on Thursday, joining the United States, Britain, Australia and others.