The Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, plans to hold off exporting Covid-19 jabs again until the end of the year in a blow to countries depending on its shipments to start their campaigns.
“We continue to scale up manufacturing and prioritise India,” chief executive Adar Poonawalla said on Tuesday. “We also hope to start delivering to Covax and other countries by the end of this year,” he added, referring to the multilateral global vaccine programme.
Poonawalla said he was making the statement in response to “intense discussion” over the decision made at the beginning of the year by the company and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to export vaccines.
India blocked vaccine exports in March to battle a devastating second wave of coronavirus infections, leaving many other countries struggling to secure doses. Serum is a major contributor to Covax.
“We would like to reiterate that we have never exported vaccines at the cost of the people in India and remain committed to do everything we can in the support of the vaccination drive in the country,” he said.
India’s vaccine drive has slowed as state governments have imposed local lockdowns in their efforts to curb the speed of the second wave, while clinics have been reporting vaccine shortages.