India delays supply of COVID-19 vaccines to WHO-backed COVAX, sources say – .

India delays supply of COVID-19 vaccines to WHO-backed COVAX, sources say – .

NEW DELHI, Oct. 19 (Reuters) – India has delayed the commitment of vaccine supplies as part of the COVAX global sharing effort, two sources told Reuters on Tuesday, a day after one of its major funders, the WHO, said the agency could not “cut corners” to approve a nationally developed vaccine.

The world’s largest vaccine maker resumed exports of COVID-19 doses this month for the first time since April. It sent around 4 million to neighboring countries like Bangladesh and Iran, but none to COVAX. Read more

The delayed supply of COVAX could disrupt vaccination campaigns in many African countries that depend on it for vaccines.

On Monday, in the run-up to an Oct. 26 meeting on Covaxin, the first COVID-19 vaccine developed in India, the World Health Organization (WHO) said it couldn’t “cut corners rounds ”in the approval decision.

One of the sources said it was “frustrating” that India has yet to confirm supplies to COVAX, despite the Health Minister’s pledge last month to honor the commitment to COVAX and ‘others during the quarter preceding December.

The sources, who were made aware of the export negotiations, declined to be identified as they were not authorized to comment on the matter.

“We are still awaiting confirmation of when and how many doses we can expect when exports resume, and we are not aware of any specific delays,” said COVAX co-head GAVI, the Global Alliance for vaccines and immunization, in an email.

“Indian vaccines have a powerful role to play” in ending the pandemic, he added.

India’s Ministry of Health, WHO and the Serum Institute of India (SII), which is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, did not respond to requests for comment.

SII, responsible for delivering hundreds of millions of doses of a version of the AstraZeneca (AZN.L) vaccine to COVAX and countries like Bangladesh, has more than tripled its vaccine production since April, to 220 million doses per month.

Indian government officials have said they are confident the WHO will soon approve emergency use of Covaxin, which accounts for 11% of the 990 million doses injected by India, with the rest coming mainly from AstraZeneca.

A few weeks ago, Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of SII, told the Telegraph newspaper that the company would resume exports to COVAX in October.

“Initially, these supplies will be low, but by January 2022, once we have satisfied domestic demands… we will see large volumes going to COVAX,” he added. Read more

Before India halted overseas vaccine shipments in April to meet domestic demand, it donated or sold more than 66 million doses of COVID-19, including Covaxin.

Reporting by Krishna N. Das; Additional reporting by Sanjeev Miglani; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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