Delhi has reportedly put a temporary hold on all major exports of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India (SII) to meet demand at home as infections surge.
The move, first reported by Reuters, will affect supplies to the GAVI/WHO-backed Covax vaccine-sharing facility through which more than 180 countries are expected to get doses, one of the sources said.
The UK has also received only half of the 10m doses it ordered from the SII, leading to warnings that Britain’s vaccination programme might have to slow even as it is facing threats of tighter export controls from the EU for doses produced there.
The reported decision is the latest twist in the increasingly tangled and sometimes murky story of the Serum Institute of India’s involvement in the manufacture of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Confusing the issue has been a lack of transparency over issues with the Serum Institute’s priorities for supply, as well as issues with production, which have emerged in leaks, anonymous briefings and sometimes contradictory statements.
Underlining the issue, there appeared to have been no vaccine export from India since last Thursday, according to the foreign ministry’s website, as the country expands its own immunisation effort.
“Everything else has taken a backseat, for the time being at least,” one of the sources told Reuters.
Both sources had direct knowledge of the matter, but declined to be named as the discussions are not public.
“No exports, nothing till the time the India situation stabilises. The government won’t take such a big chance at the moment when so many need to be vaccinated in India.”