US senators ask Pfizer, Moderna for global access to vaccines
As India faces the world's worst COVID-19 outbreak, five top Democratic senators in the United States wrote to leading vaccine manufacturers - Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson - seeking better global access to vaccines. The letter, in which they cited India's example, was sent to the CEOs of the three companies on Wednesday, PTI reported. Here are more details on this.
What did the senators say in the letter?
Senators Elizabeth Warren, Edward J Markey, Tammy Baldwin, Jeffrey A Merkley, and Christopher Murphy highlighted that India is a major manufacturer of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and has exported over 66 million doses around the world since January 2021. But now, because of the massive surge in infections, the country is struggling to vaccinate people fast enough to contain the outbreak, they said.
'Uncontrolled spread of virus poses significant risks'
"Though Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and other companies have developed safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, the uncontrolled spread of coronavirus poses significant risks to global vaccination efforts: as the virus proliferates, it evolves, increasing the risk of a variant developing that renders vaccinations ineffective (sic)," the senators wrote. There are several steps manufacturers could take to improve global access to vaccines, they suggested.
Senators suggest companies to share technology for faster production
The senators suggested that these companies could share technology, including vaccine recipes and manufacturing information, with their partner companies, to expedite the production process. "Though wealthier countries, including the United States, have successfully secured vaccines and have made significant strides in vaccinating their populations, many middle-income and lower-income nations have less access to vaccine doses," the senators said.
'Not enough doses for the demand'
The Serum Institute of India, the country's largest vaccine maker, can reportedly produce 70 million AstraZeneca doses per month. Even when its capacity is combined with the second approved vaccine, COVAXIN, there are not enough doses, the senators said. Though more than 14 crore vaccine doses have been administered across India, a little over 1% of India's population is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The worsening COVID-19 situation in India
India is in dire need of more vaccines as it has been gripped by a dreadful second wave of the pandemic, which experts blame on mutated strains of the virus, mass gatherings, and a slow vaccination drive. In the last 24 hours, the country reported 3.79 lakh infections, the highest single-day surge for any country. With 3,645 fatalities, it also marked the deadliest day.