BENGALURU, Nov 26 (Reuters) - India restarted exports of
COVID-19 shots to the global vaccine-sharing network COVAX on
Friday for the first time since April, and producer Serum
Institute of India (SII) forecast a substantial increase in
supplies from early next year.
The resumption came as a new coronavirus variant https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/japan-tighten-border-controls-s-africa-others-new-virus-variant-jiji-2021-11-26
detected in South Africa spooked the world and prompted some
new travel curbs.
SII, the world's biggest vaccine maker, said https://www.seruminstitute.com/press_release_sii_261121.php
it was able to recommence exports because it had beaten its
target of producing 1 billion doses of the AstraZeneca
vaccine ahead of time.
Much of that output has been used in India, which stopped
exports eight months ago to inoculate its own people when
SII has a deal to supply up to 550 million doses of the shot
to COVAX, which mainly provides doses to low-income countries.
So far, COVAX has received only about 30 million from SII.
SII's output of the vaccine, which it calls Covishield, has
nearly quadrupled to as many as 240 million doses a month since
the halt in exports.
"SII's supply of doses via COVAX is expected to increase
substantially into Quarter 1, 2022," it said.
A spokesperson from GAVI, which runs the COVAX program along
with the World Health Organization, said that volumes delivered
would increase rapidly with the export resumption, but did not
give any numbers.
SII said it had already produced more than 1.25 billion
Covishield doses and was now working on expanding the output of
other shots, including its licensed version of the Novavax
The company did not say on Friday how many doses it was
shipping to COVAX. A government official told Reuters last week
that Covishield exports to the global platform may not exceed 10
million doses for the rest of the year.
(Reporting by Shivani Singh and Chris Thomas in Bengaluru and
Krishna N. Das in New Delhi
Editing by Shounak Dasgupta, Aditya Soni and Frances Kerry)