India May Speed Up Covid-19 Vaccine Exports Under Maitri Programme By December

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Anticipating excess stock of Covid-19 vaccines, India may accelerate the export under its humanitarian initiative — Vaccine Maitri — by December, News18.com has learnt. At present, states have a total stock of nine crore vaccines and the Modi government is expecting surplus shots in the next two months.

“As soon as we will get into a situation where we will have vaccine stock more than the requirement of Indian population, we will accelerate the exports to serve the requirement of other nations,” a senior government official said.

He further said it was earlier predicted that the country will be in a position to resume exports by the fourth quarter of 2021. “We believe by November-December, we will have excess stock available that can be exported under Vaccine Maitri.”

“While the nation remains the first priority, we will start exporting as soon as we will be in line with our mission to inoculate majority of India by the year-end,” he added.

The government had on October 7 permitted the Serum Institute of India (SII) to export 10 lakh Covishield doses each to Nepal, Myanmar and Bangladesh, while Bharat Biotech will provide Iran with 10 lakh doses of Covaxin under the Maitri programme.

The SII has also been allowed to supply bulk Covishield vaccine to AstraZeneca in the United Kingdom.

“Right now, no concrete plans have been made. Once we will have enough stock in hand, we will start sending vaccines as per the priority, considering the commitments,” another official in the ministry said.

The government is also expecting Zydus Cadila’s ZyCoVD to join India’s vaccination drive followed by Biological E’s Corbevax. “ZyCoVD has started manufacturing and is expected to give around 65 lakh doses in the first delivery. Biological E may also be included in the drive by the next two months, if all goes well,” the first official said.

Delay in Corbevax’ entry

After facing delay in procurement of raw materials, Hyderabad-based Biological E is expected to apply for emergency use authorisation of Corbevax by November-end.

Earlier, the government was expecting submission of data by October for Corbevax.

“The company was struggling to import raw material required to manufacture vaccines. We understand that they have now managed to procure the key ingredients,” a senior government official said. “By the end of November, it is likely to apply for approval before an expert committee and drug regulator.”

In September, Dr VK Paul, Member (health), NITI Aayog had said the company is expected to launch its vaccine against coronavirus in October this year.

Corbevax, the third made-in-India jab against coronavirus, is a recombinant protein sub-unit vaccine, which is made by using a specific part of the SARS-CoV-2 virus — the spike protein on the virus’s surface. The other two indigenous vaccines are Covaxin and ZyCoV-D.

Biological E will supply 30 crore doses of Corbevax to India by December, the health ministry had announced in June. The ministry has made an advance payment of Rs 1,500 crore to Biological E for reserving the supplies.

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