Adar Poonawalla, head of the Serum Institute of India (SII) has said that India won’t give the nod for the export of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for several months,
He said that the Covidshield vaccine was granted emergency authorization by the Indian regulator on Sunday on the condition that the Serum Institute doesn’t export the shots to ensure that vulnerable populations in India are protected.
“We can only give (the vaccines) to the government of India at the moment,” a report quoted Adar Poonawalla as saying.
The decision was also made to prevent hoarding.
SII also has been barred from selling the vaccine in the private market.
The first 100 million doses of the vaccine were being sold to the Indian government at a “special price” of Rs 200 per dose, after which prices would be increased.
The vaccine will be sold in the private market at Rs 1,000 rupees per dose, Poonawalla said.
He also said vaccines could be delivered to Indian states where they were needed within seven to 10 days of the company finalizing a deal with the Indian government.
Due to the ban on the export of the Covishield vaccine, SII won’t be able to send the vaccine to COVAX — the ambitious initiative created to ensure equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines set up by the World Health Organization, vaccines alliance GAVI and CEPI, a global coalition to fight epidemics until March or April.
SII plans to give 200 to 300 million doses of the vaccine to COVAX by December 2021.
He acknowledged that the company would have to balance the distribution of vaccines between India and COVAX.
“Although we can’t vaccinate everybody right now, we can prioritize,” he said.
The pharmaceutical company is also negotiating bilateral agreements with individual countries including Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia and Morocco.
“The most vulnerable people in India and other countries should be taken care of,” Poonawalla said.