India will resume vaccine export to neighbours only after meeting domestic needs
India today said its decision to resume export of surplus Covid-19 vaccines to neighbouring countries is conditional to availability of the jabs after meeting domestic requirements.
Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla told a media briefing in New Delhi that India has doubled its vaccine production since April. "We will again export the vaccines but that is conditional to domestic availability. Only if there is surplus, we will share them with the countries in our neighbourhood and extended neighbourhood," he said.
Shringla's remarks came a day after Indian Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya announced that New Delhi would resume export of surplus vaccines from October.
India had put a hold on vaccine export in April in the wake of the ferocious second wave of the pandemic that overwhelmed the country's medical infrastructure and left lakhs of people dead.
Shringla said the UK government's decision not to recognise Covishield, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India, is "discriminatory" and India is within its "right to take reciprocal measures" if the issue was not resolved, our New Delhi correspondent reports.
"The non-recognition of Covishield is a discriminating policy and impacts our citizens travelling to the UK. The External Affairs Minister has raised the issue strongly with the new UK Foreign Secretary. I am told that certain assurances have been given that this issue will be resolved," Shringla said.
He said 50 lakh Covishield jabs were supplied from SII factory to a licensed entity in Britain for use in the government health services of that country.
The Indian Foreign Secretary's remarks came on a day External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar tweeted about discussing the matter with the British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on the margins of the high-level 76th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.
The meeting in New York took place the same day as the UK announced new Covid-related travel restrictions that has drawn a sharp reaction in India.
According to the new rules, Indian travellers who have received both doses of the Covishield vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) will be considered unvaccinated and will have to undergo self-isolation for 10 days.
Covishield forms the backbone of India's vaccination as it is being used in nearly 90 percent of the vaccination centres.