Vaccine Maitri: India to resume COVID-19 vaccine export next month
The Union Health Ministry on Monday said that India would be resuming the export of COVID-19 vaccines under its ambitious "Vaccine Maitri" initiative from October. India had halted the vaccine exports during the peak of the second wave of COVID-19 without issuing any formal ban. Notably, India had exported 66.4 million COVAXIN and Covishield doses till April-end this year. Here are more details.
Speaking to the media, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said the resumption of vaccine export is to "fulfill the commitment of India toward COVAX, in line with our motto Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam." He also said that only the surplus supply of vaccines will be used for the renewed export drive. They will prioritize global vaccine-sharing platform COVAX and neighboring countries first, Mandaviya added.
COVAX is a global vaccine-sharing platform, co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and World Health Organization. It aims to make COVID-19 vaccine distribution equitable, especially focusing on low and middle-income countries.
Talking about India's vaccine production, Mandaviya said India's monthly vaccine output has doubled since April. He further said that more than 30 crore vaccine doses will be produced by India in October. India's total vaccine production will reach the 100 crore mark in the coming quarter as new vaccines from companies such as Biological E are likely to be approved, he added.
Tellingly, India's vaccine makers have augmented their production capacity to meet requirements. Indian companies have increased their respective capacities to produce nearly 300 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses a year. The Serum Institute of India has also increased its output of the AstraZeneca shot to 20 crore doses a month. So far, India has given at least one dose to 61% of the eligible population.
The announcement to resume vaccine export came a day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Washington for the Quad Summit. The issue of vaccines is likely to be discussed at the summit, which will see the participation of the US, India, Japan, and Australia.