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‘India to utilise Covid vaccines for domestic use for some more time’

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on May 18, 2021

Piyush Goyal

Piyush Goyal takes stock of of vaccine, drug availability in the country

With the Covid-19 vaccination programme in India opening for those over eighteen years of age this month, the domestic need for vaccines has become even more pressing. Vaccines manufactured in the country or sourced from elsewhere are likely to be mostly utilised domestically for some time, said a source monitoring developments in this area.

“The Foreign Secretary had stated some time back that whatever vaccines that are produced in India and whatever India can get from other manufacturers will be fully used for India’s domestic vaccine programme. That situation remains unchanged. There is growing demand for Covid-19 vaccines in India, and it is unlikely that much can be spared for other countries at the moment,” the source told BusinessLine.

Rise in cases

Most of India’s trading partners understand the country’s predicament, with total cases rising over 25 million and more than 2,78,000 dead. They do not expect export commitments to be given priority, the source added.

In fact, at the recent virtual India-EU Leaders’ Meeting, EU officials categorically said that the bloc understood India’s decision to suspend exports, given the rising number of cases and deaths in the country.

India temporarily put on hold all major exports of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India (SII) in March this year to meet the growing domestic demand. This affected supplies to the World Health Organisation’s Covax vaccine-sharing programme as SII is one of the largest suppliers for the scheme.

“There is no clarity on when the vaccine situation in India will ease and exports can resume on a normal scale, although things may somewhat improve with Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine likely to be available soon,” said the source.

Sputnik V

The local production of Sputnik V is likely to begin in July with Dr Reddy’s Laboratories set to manufacture the vaccine in India.

Commerce & Industry Minister Piyush Goyal met officials from other Ministries such as health and the Indian industry to take stock of availability of vaccines and medicines. “Reviewed domestic availability of Covid-19 vaccines and drugs and discussed measures which government tnd industry can take to ensure continued and adequate availability of drugs for Covid-19 treatment and expedite availability of vaccines for all our citizens,” he tweeted.

Although over 180 million vaccine shots have been delivered in India so far, only a small portion of its population has been vaccinated and a large majority is still awaiting turn.

Published on May 18, 2021

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