Covid Vaccine: India to start exports in October
India will resume exports of surplus Covid-19 vaccines from next month, prioritising the global vaccine-sharing platform Covax and neighbouring countries first as supplies rise, the country's health minister said yesterday.
"We will help other countries and also fulfil our responsibility towards Covax... Neighbouring (countries) first," Minister Mansukh Mandaviya told reporters in New Delhi, adding that only the excess supplies would be exported.
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 300 million doses next month, the minister said.
Total production could top 1 billion in the last three months of the year as new vaccines from companies such as Biological E are likely to be approved, he said.
Talking to The Daily Star, the Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Vikram K Doraiswami said: "Supplies should start in reasonable quantities soon, with priority partners like Bangladesh being among the earliest recipients."
India had supplied 6.6 crore doses to nearly 100 countries before halting the vaccine export.
The announcement by the Indian health minister came a day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi travels to the US to attend the maiden in-person Quad summit where the vaccine issue will be come up prominently.
The summit will be attended by President Joe Biden of the US, Australian PM Scott Morrison and Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga.
Modi is also likely to hold a bilateral meeting with Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina on the margins of the UN General Assembly session in New York, reports our New Delhi correspondent.
India wants to vaccinate all its 944 million adults by December and has so far given at least one dose to 64% of them and two doses to 22%.
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 200 million doses a month from April levels, reports Reuters.
Indian companies have set up the capacity to produce nearly 3 billion Covid vaccine doses a year.