India has barred Serum Institute from exporting Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for several months: Adar Poonawalla

India has barred Serum Institute from exporting Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for several months: Adar Poonawalla

The head of the Serum Institute has said India will not allow the export of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for several months, The Associated Press stated in a report.

The Serum Institute of India (SII) — the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer — has been contracted to make 1 billion doses of the vaccine for developing nations.

With rich nations reserving most of the vaccines that will be made this year, Serum Institute is likely to make most of the inoculations for developing countries. The ban on exports, however, means that poorer nations will probably have to wait a few months before receiving their first shots.

The Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine was granted emergency authorization by the Indian regulator on Sunday, but on the condition that Serum Institute doesn’t export the shots to ensure that vulnerable populations in India are protected, Adar Poonawalla, the company’s CEO, told AP.

He said that the company also has been barred from selling the vaccine on the private market.

“We can only give (the vaccines) to the government of India at the moment,” Adar Poonawalla said, adding the decision was also made to prevent hoarding.

SII’s Adar Poonawalla said the export of vaccines for Covax — the ambitious initiative created to ensure equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines set up by the World Health Organization, vaccines alliance GAVI and CEPI, a global coalition to fight epidemics — won’t begin until March or April.

Adar Poonawalla said that the Serum Institute was in the process of signing a larger contract with Covax for 300 million-400 million doses of the vaccine. That is apart from two existing orders of 100 million doses each for the vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, and another one from Novovax. He said the deal would be finalized in the coming weeks.