India has banned the export of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for several months until vulnerable Indians have been vaccinated.
The Serum Institute of India (SII) had been contracted to make 1 billion doses of the vaccine for developing nations but it was banned from exporting the vaccine for several months, after the Indian government gave emergency authority for the AstraZeneca vaccine to be used locally.
“We can only give the vaccines to the government of India at the moment,” SII chief executive Adar Poonawalla said.
He said the export of vaccines for COVAX – the initiative created to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines set up by the World Health Organisation (WHO), vaccines alliance GAVI and CEPI, a global coalition to fight epidemics – would not begin until March or April.
Australia is unaffected by the ban, having secured its source of the AstraZeneca vaccine from Europe.
The joint chair of COVAX, Jane Halton, said she predicted that vaccine nationalism would be an issue and that the COVAX alliance had deliberately sourced from different countries.
“Because of these kinds of risks, we decided not to have production located in only one or two countries,” she said.
“We have sourced 2 billion doses for vulnerable populations across the world from a number of suppliers.”