India temporarily halts Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine exports

India temporarily halts Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine exports
The country's largest vaccine maker has already delayed deliveries to Brazil and the UK. Source: Reuters
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Daily US Times: A source of Indian foreign ministry told the BBC that the country has placed a temporary hold on all exports of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine.

They said rising Covid-19 infections meant domestic demand for the vaccine was expected to pick up in the coming weeks, and so the doses were needed for India’s own rollout.

The decision of halting the exports- described as a “temporary squeeze” by officials – is expected to affect supplies of the vaccine until the end of April.

Some 190 countries under the Covax scheme, ascheme led by the WHO aims to ensure vaccines are shared fairly among all nations, are likely to be affected.

The Serum Institute of India (SII), India’s largest vaccine manufacturer, has delayed shipments of the vaccine to several countries in recent days, including the UK and Brazil.

India has exported more than 60m doses of vaccine to 76 countries so far, with the majority of these being the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab.

The decision comes as India faces a surge in Covid-19 cases. It recorded on Wednesday its sharpest daily rise this year, with more than 47,000 new cases and 275 deaths.

The Indian government is opening up vaccinations for those over the age of 45 from 1 April, and authorities expect demand for vaccinations to increase.

One foreign ministry source said: “[The export hold] is a temporary measure. Domestic demand will have to take precedence.”

They said there was likely to be a squeeze on the AstraZeneca vaccine supplies until April, but the situation could ease come next month when at least one additional vaccine is expected to be given emergency approval.

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