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India to resume exports of surplus COVID-19 vaccines from October under Vaccine Maitri programme

Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya said more than 30 crore doses will be produced in October and more than 100 crores in the coming quarter.

September 20, 2021 / 05:31 PM IST
Representative image.

Representative image.

The Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Mansukh Mandaviya on September 20 said the government will resume exports of COVID-19 vaccine under the Vaccine Maitri initiative from October.

Mandaviya told the media that India will resume vaccine exports to fulfil the country's commitment towards the world in the collective fight against COVID.

The health minister said more than 30 crore doses will be produced in October and more than 100 crores in the coming quarter vaccines.

India had shipped 66 million doses of vaccines overseas through donations, bilateral arrangements, and sales. The exports were halted in April as the country coped with a deadly second wave of the coronavirus disease.

Last week Adar Poonawalla, CEO of SII told media that his company is now producing 16 crore doses per month, and with other vaccine manufacturers also expanding capacities and the new one coming in, the government was expected to ease export restrictions by October.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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Last year, SII pledged to provide 550 million doses of Covishield to COVAX, a global initiative for the equitable distribution of jabs to people in 92 low- and middle-income countries.  The company also received $300 million funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Viswanath Pilla is a business journalist with 14 years of reporting experience. Based in Mumbai, Pilla covers pharma, healthcare and infrastructure sectors for Moneycontrol.
first published: Sep 20, 2021 05:31 pm

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