Serum Institute of India resumes vaccine export to COVAX

Serum Institute of India resumes vaccine export to COVAX

New Delhi – The Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine maker, resumed exporting coronavirus vaccines to the UN-backed COVAX distribution program on Friday after halting most overseas sales in March.

The company was supposed to be the main supplier of COVAX, but the explosion of cases in India cut exports. At the time, the Serum Institute had contracts to supply COVAX with 200 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines, and incomplete agreements to supply another 350 million doses. The suspension was a major setback for global efforts to distribute vaccines fairly.

GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance that co-manages the COVAX program, said the company provided just under 30 million doses for it.

The Serum Institute said in a statement that new infections in India have now fallen to the lowest level in months, and that the first new exports under the COVAX program, destined for Nepal and Tajikistan, will leave Friday evening. She said she expects exports to increase significantly in early 2022.

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It said it has already produced more than 1 billion doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine under license, nearly all of them for home use.

The Serum Institute also began making the Novavax vaccine under license in June. Experts say the vaccine – which regulators in Indonesia and the Philippines have lit up green – is easier to store and transport than some others, and this may allow it to play an important role in boosting global vaccine supplies.

With the addition of the new vaccine, Adar Poonawala, CEO of the Serum Institute, said, “We can be more optimistic that the WHO’s goal of vaccinating 70% of the world’s population by the middle of next year can be achieved.”

Despite the lifting of coronavirus restrictions in India, the country, like others, is on edge after a new and troubling variable was discovered in South Africa. The federal government has asked states to increase screening of travelers from some countries and genetic sequencing of any infections detected.

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Associated Press writer Jamie Kitten in Geneva contributed to this report.

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