India's Covid crisis creates ripple effects for global vaccine drive

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Geneva, May 7 (BNA): The devastating Covid-19 surge wreaking havoc in India is being felt across the world owing to New Delhi's ban on vaccine exports while it scrambles to get jabs into arms locally, the Deutsche Presse Agentur (DPA) reported.

Poorer countries are not receiving their promised vaccine shipments after India claimed for itself all production from the Serum Institute of India, the country's biggest vaccine maker.

The Serum Institute makes the two-shot AstraZeneca vaccine and is a primary supplier to the COVAX programme, a World Health Organization-backed effort to deliver coronavirus vaccines for the world's neediest people.

"The COVAX facility no longer expects deliveries of vaccines produced by the Serum Institute of India to resume in May," a spokesperson for Gavi, the vaccination initiative that manages COVAX, told dpa in Geneva on Friday.

By May, the Serum Institute should have delivered 110 million vaccine doses to COVAX, according to contracts.

But only 20 million have arrived as the orders are put to use in virus-ravaged India.

COVAX hopes to supply the recipient countries that have now run out of doses by June at the latest, the spokesperson said.

The important thing, she said, is to reach people who have already received the first dose of the vaccine from AstraZeneca and are awaiting a second. For that, 20 million doses were still missing.

COVAX has also placed orders with other AstraZeneca suppliers as it tries to quickly fill the shortfall. The initiative is also appealing to countries with large stores of vaccine to donate the doses.

COVAX aims to deliver at least 2 billion vaccine doses by the end of 2021. As of May 7, some 54 million vaccine doses have been distributed to 121 countries.

Gavi has just signed contracts with US manufacturers Moderna and Novavax for 850 million vaccine doses. The first shipments are scheduled to arrive in October.