By Krishna N. Das
NEW DELHI (Reuters) -India has approved the export of 20 million doses of the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India (SII) to Indonesia, according to a government document seen by Reuters and a government source.
The shot, which SII calls Covovax, has an emergency-use authorization in Indonesia but not in India. SII told Reuters last month it could produce up to 100 million Covovax doses by December.
The government has also decided to allow the export of 10 million doses of a licensed version of the AstraZeneca shot made by SII, branded Covishield, to the global vaccine-sharing programme COVAX, two sources said. Shipments will start next month, one of the sources said, for the first time since April. [nL1N2S105Z]
SII's chief executive told https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/indias-serum-could-export-20-30-mln-vaccine-doses-month-covax-says-ceo-2021-10-21 Reuters last month his family-run company was expecting to export 20-30 million Covishield doses to COVAX in November and an equal amount in December, with much bigger volumes from January once India's own needs were near fully met.
SII and the health ministry could not be contacted early on Friday.
One of the sources said the government first wanted to make sure it had enough doses to fully inoculate nearly all of India's 944 million adults, likely by January. The tentative target is to have some 1.7 billion doses in total.
India has so far given at least one dose to 81% of its adults and two doses to 41%.
The sources said the government had no plans to allow booster shots for its citizens.
One of the sources also said the government had no plans to place any order for the COVID-19 pill made by Merck & Co and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.
Indian regulators are currently studying data on the drug, which will be made by domestic companies such as Dr. Reddy's Laboratories, Aurobindo Pharma, Cipla, Emcure Pharmaceuticals Sun Pharmaceuticals and Torrent Pharmaceuticals.
The companies will directly market the products to hospitals and others, the source said.
(Reporting by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Dan Grebler)