In order to focus on a recent increase in domestic Covid19 infections, the Indian government has temporarily placed major AstraZeneca exports on hold.
The Serum Institute of India (SII), which is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, locally produces AstraZeneca vaccines and will now prioritize domestic distribution as cases surge in the country.
Although exports will continue on a later, phase based schedule, the delay is expected to impact supplies for the COVAX vaccine-sharing facility that 64 poorer countries are reliant upon.
So far, the SII has provided COVAX with 28 million doses, and was expected to supply 40 million more this month, and up to 50 million in April.
According to the Indian foreign ministry website, the country has thus far exported a total of over 60.5 million vaccine doses.
By April, India will be expanding its vaccination program to include all individuals above the age of 45, though many states have called on jabs for all adults.
Currently, only the elderly and those 45 years of age and above with health vulnerabilities, are eligible for vaccination.
Over 54 million vaccine doses have been administered in India so far, with 49 million of those shots being the SII produced AstraZeneca. Bharat Biotech’s COVAXIN developed in India, comprise the other shots.
India has reported the third most number of Covid19 cases, at 11.8 million.
Meanwhile, as the Philippines continues to experience its own surge in Covid19 infections, several areas of the country have been placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) until the end of Holy Week, on April 4.