A top Republican senator has welcomed India’s decision to resume the export of Covid-19 vaccines and asked the country to increase its production to meet its international obligations. India last week said it will resume the export of Covid-19 vaccines in the fourth quarter of 2021 under the “Vaccine Maitri” programme and to meet its commitment to the Covax global pool.

Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, however, said that vaccinating Indian citizens remains the top priority of the government.

Senator Jim Risch, a ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, welcomed India’s decision to resume the export.

“I welcome the announcement by India that it will restart exporting Covid-19 vaccines,” Risch tweeted on Tuesday.

“I encourage India to ramp up to fulfil COVAX and commercial orders, which is crucial for the entire Indo Pacific and the world,” he added.

India stopped the export of Covid-19 vaccines after the second wave of the pandemic hit the country in April this year.

Asserting that vaccination of its citizens remains the government’s topmost priority, Mandaviya said, “India will be resuming the export of Covid-19 vaccines under Vaccine Maitri to fulfil the commitment of India towards COVAX in line with our motto of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”.

COVAX is a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines directed by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and the WHO.