Indian Government To Resume Covid Vaccine Exports In 2022: Expert Panel Chief
India will likely restart exporting Covid-19 vaccines next year once it has immunized its own adult population, the head of an influential government expert panel said.
"Almost 60 countries are hardly having any access to vaccine and India should be able to provide a substantial portion in 2022," N.K. Arora, chairman of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization in India, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Tuesday. "As soon as we are through with our adult population we should have sufficient vaccine to share with the rest of the world."
The South Asian nation, which has the second largest Covid outbreak with 32.5 million infections, should have six locally-developed shots by the end of 2021, Arora said. As the head of vaccine advisory group, he helps the Indian federal government evaluate new vaccines as well as review data from those already rolled out.
Home to the world's biggest vaccine-producing industry, India earlier this year was shipping out shots to poorer nations amid Prime Minister Narendra Modi's much-touted vaccine diplomacy. There was also an expectation that the country would be a major supplier to the World Health Organization-backed Covax effort for global equitable access to these vaccines.
But the onset of a devastating second-wave of infections and local supply delays prompted the government to prioritize its own citizens and halted overseas shipments in April.
Covax has since struggled to make up for the shortfall, looking instead to countries such as China to fill the gap as India slowly bolsters its own capacity. A boosted portfolio of vaccines by the year end should cover Indian government's plans to fully immunize 920 million adults, Arora said.
"That means our requirement will be 1.8 million doses by that time," he said. "The way our pipeline is we should be able to reach and meet our target by the end of the year."