Wednesday, 21, April, 2021

Delhi has reportedly put a temporary hold on all major exports of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India (SII) to meet demand at home as infections surge.

The move, first reported by Reuters, will affect supplies to the Gavi/WHO-backed Covax vaccine-sharing facility through which more than 180 countries are expected to get doses, one of the sources said.

The UK has received only half of the 10m doses it ordered from the SII, leading to warnings that its vaccination programme may have to slow. The UK is also facing threats of tighter export controls from the EU on doses produced there.

The reported Indian decision is the latest twist in the increasingly tangled and sometimes murky story of the SII’s involvement in the manufacture of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

There has been a lack of transparency over issues with the institute’s priorities for supply, as well as issues with production, which have emerged in leaks, anonymous briefings and sometimes contradictory statements.

There appear to have been no vaccine exports from India since last Thursday, according to the foreign ministry’s website, as the country expands its own immunisation effort.

Uzbekistan, as part of the COVAX Initiative, accepted the delivery of 660 thousand AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines made by SII on March 17, with a total of 2.4 million vaccines to be received  before Q3, 2020. 

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