India Delays Jab Deliveries to UN-Supported Vaccine Program | News on the coronavirus pandemic

Vaccine shipments from the world’s largest manufacturer to India are set to be delayed in March and April due to growing demand in the country which is grappling with a spike in COVID-19 infections, according to the vaccine alliance supported by United Nations, Gavi.

“Delays in granting new export licenses for COVID-19 vaccine doses produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII) are due to increased demand for COVID-19 vaccines in India,” a spokesperson for Gavi.

This news is a further blow to the global distribution of vaccines, especially in the poorest countries, as vaccines produced by IBS represent the main supplies of COVAX, an international platform designed to ensure equitable access to vaccines for countries. the poorest.

SII has supplied nearly 28 million doses to COVAX, and it was expected to deliver an additional 40 million in March, and up to 50 million in April, a person close to COVAX said, without providing further details. The source said some shipments of AstraZeneca vaccines produced by the company’s maker in South Korea and expected in March are now expected in April due to production issues.

“SII promised that in addition to sourcing from India, it would prioritize the COVAX multilateral solution for fair distribution,” said the Gavi spokesperson. “COVAX is in talks with the Indian government to ensure deliveries as quickly as possible,” he added.

So far, India has sent over 60 million doses to 76 countries, mostly AstraZeneca injections made by SII, the world’s largest vaccine maker by volume. Many countries have prioritized the AstraZeneca vaccine in their deployment plans. The vaccine is sold at cost and is easier to store at normal temperature than other vaccines.

Reuters news agency quoted an Indian government source as saying that New Delhi will continue to provide vaccines on a phased basis.

“We had said that taking into account the national requirements of the phased deployment, India would continue to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to partner countries over the coming weeks and months on a phased basis,” the source said.

“This position remains unchanged. We have not imposed any ban on vaccine exports, unlike many other countries, ”the source said.

A growing gap

The director of the African Centers for Disease Control, a continent-wide disease control organization, said in an online press conference Thursday: “As a continent, I feel truly helpless. “

“Without rapid access to vaccines, we will continue to be challenged, lives will be lost, our economies will continue to struggle,” John Nkengasong said in response to questions about the COVAX delay and to a discussion separate on potential brakes on COVID-19 vaccine exports from the European Union.

The divide between rich and poor countries in the deployment of immunization is widening with the labeling Monday of the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. the inequity of vaccines as “grotesque”.

As of Wednesday, 0.68 doses were administered per 100 people on the African continent, compared to 39.01 per 100 people in the United States and 13.96 per 100 in the EU, according to Our World in Data.

“It is unfair that high-income countries seek to immunize their entire population, while others struggle to reach a significant proportion of high-risk categories,” Richard Mihigo, immunization program coordinator for the country, told reporters on Thursday. WHO in Africa.

Mihingo added that there are at least 10 countries in Africa, all expecting vaccine doses via COVAX, which have not received a single injection so far.

The COVAX program aims to distribute two billion doses for free by the end of this year to immunize up to 27 percent of the population in low-income countries.

It was expected to deliver some 238 million doses by the end of May, including 237 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine made in India and South Korea.

Some rich countries also rely on SII. The UK government last week blamed the delays in its vaccination rollout on a lack of company supplies.

The booming cases in India

But India, home to 1.3 billion people, is experiencing a new wave of COVID-19 cases after infections have slowed sharply since September, dashing hopes that for India the pandemic could be over.

India last sent photos on March 18, according to Foreign Ministry data. Ministry data on Thursday showed nearly 54,000 new infections in the past 24 hours, the highest number since October, bringing the total number of cases to 12 million.

More than 700 infections of the British variant have been detected, but the Indian government believes that this mutation and others are not causing the rise.

India’s strict lockdown imposed last March has been gradually eased in 2020, with most activities, including weddings, religious festivals and some cricket matches, returning to normal.

Today the sidewalks are returning, especially in the hard-hit western state of Maharashtra, where authorities have launched random virus checks in overcrowded areas in the local capital, Mumbai, with those tested having to pay.

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