The Government on Thursday gave a nod to the Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech to export 10 lakh vaccine doses each to India’s neighbouring countries and Iran respectively under the Vaccine Maitri Programme. SII would be sending out 10 lakh Covishield doses to Nepal, Myanmar and Bangladesh while Bharat Biotech would be sending out 10 lakh Covaxin doses to Iran.
The Pune-based pharma company SII has also been allowed to supply bulk Covishield vaccine, which is equivalent to around 3 crore doses, to AstraZeneca in the UK.
This comes after the Centre had earlier declared to extend its support to the world for vaccine equity, as the country is continuing to record vaccination in record numbers domestically. With this, India resumes its export of surplus COVID-19 vaccines in the fourth quarter of 2021 under the ‘Vaccine Maitri’ programme and to meet its commitment to the COVAX global pool.
Meanwhile, SII – the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer has also assured the Centre that it would be able to supply around 22 crore doses of Covishield in the coming month. SII has also informed the Centre that by December 31st, it will complete the supply of 66 crore doses of Covishield against the recent order and will touch supplies of more than 130 crore doses in the year 2021.
Bharat Biotech on the other hand is currently producing nearly 3 crore doses of Covaxin every month and is likely to ramp up its production to up to 5 crores in the coming months.
Vaccine Maitri is a humanitarian initiative undertaken by the Government of India to provide COVID vaccines to countries in need around the world. The initiative commenced on January 20, 2021. As of May 9, 2021, India had shipped around 66.3 million vaccines globally, of which, over 10 million doses were gifted to 47 nations by the Government.
In other news, the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has given Zydus Cadila’s ZyCoV-D vaccine the green signal and the company is set to roll out its vaccine in October-November. Currently – Covishield, Covaxin and Sputnik V vaccine doses are being administered in the country. As of Thursday, India’s COVID-19 vaccination coverage has reached 92.63 crores, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.