India to resume vaccine supply to COVAX this week, says WHO’s Swaminathan


India will resume its Covid-19 vaccine supplies to COVAX countries this week, Dr Soumya Swaminathan, scientist at the World Health Organisation, said on Monday.

Covishield doses should be going out this week from the Serum Institute of India (SII) to COVAX countries, Swaminathan said. She expects supplies of 30-40 million doses of Covishield to be supplied before the end of the year.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Union health minister have committed a billion doses to the world in 2022 at the recent G20 meet, Swaminathan said in an interview with CNBC TV18 on Monday.

Swaminathan also expects other vaccines from Indian developers to be part of the supplies in 2022. These include the Novovax vaccine Covovax from SII, the Biological-E vaccine, Gennova’s mRNA vaccine and Zydus Cadila’s DNA vaccine. These companies should start submitting data to the WHO for emergency use listing as and when the data becomes available, she said.

A commitment of around 1.4 billion Covid-19 vaccine doses was made by countries across the world to the COVAX facility. According to Swaminathan, WHO has seen less than 20% of this supplied, and 80 countries are not on target to meet the 40% coverage by the end of year. “We are far behind in vaccinating people, particularly in Africa, who are depending on COVAX, and there is a need step up and start supplies to COVAX to meet the target,” Swaminathan said. Around 500 million doses would be needed to meet this target.

Regarding the delay in emergency use listing for Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, Swaminathan said the decision was made by an external technical advisory group and through a well-established institutional process, which had to be respected. WHO has granted emergency use listing to eight Covid vaccines, and it took an average of 45 to 165 days for this. The Covaxin process was completed in 90 days, she said.

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