India might not resume major exports of COVID-19 at least until October as it is gearing up to providing exclusively for its people, worsening supply shortages from the global COVAX initiative, three government sources said.
The South Asian country stopped vaccine exports a month ago after donating and selling more than 66 million doses, leaving Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Langka, and Africa among other countries struggling for alternate supply.
Given the country’s shortfall, the World Health Organization, which co-leads COVAX, called on vaccine manufacturers outside India on Monday, May 17 to advance supplies to the program.
According to a source who wished to maintain anonymity, India’s vaccination campaign will now take priority as the country’s total number of coronavirus infections approaches 25 million and the daily death toll reaches an all-time high.
The other two sources said the exact timing for resuming exports will depend on how soon India can control the second wave of cases that has overwhelmed the health system.
According to a spokesman for Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, the focus, for the time being, is on supplying vaccines to India.
COVAX, co-lead GAVI said at least 140 million doses it had expected from the Serum Institute by the end of May will now remain in India.
The head of UNICEF asked the G7 countries to donate supplies to COVAX as an emergency measure to address a severe shortage caused by disruptions in Indian vaccine exports.