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Iran requests India to quickly send rest of Covaxin shipment it has already paid for

As vaccine shortage in India spurs more demand for an outright ban on commercial export, an anxious Iranian government has clarified that it has purchased 5 lakh doses of Covaxin from Bharat Biotech. But 3.75 lakh doses, which were supposed to be sent by mid-March, are still pending.

April 09, 2021 / 06:49 PM IST
Representative Image

Representative Image

Iran has requested the government to quickly send it at least 3.75 lakh doses of Covaxin, which has been commercially procured and paid for by the country. Covaxin is manufactured by the Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech International.

The first batch of 1.25 lakh doses had reached Tehran on March 11, according to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). Next day, the Iranian health ministry's public relations head Kianoush Jahanpour had announced on Twitter that a further 3.75 lakh doses would arrive in the coming week. Set to be shipped by mid-March, it is yet to be sent.

“In reply to media queries on the purchase of vaccines from India, Iran has reflected its needs to the government and the Bharat Biotech. Happily, we have received the first consignment of 125,000 doses. Given the cordial relations with India and understanding the rise of new wave of Coronavirus in both countries, we are doing the necessary talks with Indian authorities to kindly expedite sending rest of the consignment which has already been paid for,” the Embassy's Twitter handle posted on Friday evening.

In India, the demand for an outright ban on commercial vaccine exports has gained steam as daily cases continue to scale record highs. As a result, Iran may just be the first of the many countries which have ordered from the two vaccine makers in India to become anxious, MEA sources said.

“India has assured Iran that the batch of promised vaccines would be delivered speedily. We are in close contact with the Iranian authorities,” a senior MEA official said.

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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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Moneycontrol had reported on April 8 that India has decided to stop the direct grant of COVID-19 vaccines to poorer countries through the 'Vaccine Maitri' programme being run by the MEA. Multiple sources in the ministry had confirmed that the programme has been put on hold for the next one month or until the supply of vaccines for domestic requirement reaches an 'optimal level'.

However, the government has not yet officially announced a ban on the commercial export of COVID-19 vaccines. This means that commercial contracts signed by Bharat Biotech and the Serum Institute of India to supply vaccines to foreign nations or private entities can still continue.  The two producers have exported 1.81 crore doses on commercial terms.
Subhayan Chakraborty
first published: Apr 9, 2021 06:49 pm

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