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COVID-19 vaccine exports may resume by year-end: Adar Poonawalla

India is nearing a level where there is sufficient stock to sustain the vaccination drive, according to Poonawalla.

September 18, 2021 / 09:54 AM IST
India had temporarily halted export of vaccines during the fierce second wave of COVID-19 in India. Before that, India had exported doses to several countries.

India had temporarily halted export of vaccines during the fierce second wave of COVID-19 in India. Before that, India had exported doses to several countries.

Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla said India may resume export of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of the year.

Poonawalla told Mint he expects export restrictions on COVID-19 vaccines to be lifted in one or two months. He also said that SII, which is manufacturing Covishield (the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine), is "significantly" ramping up its capacities.

"The export restrictions were there temporarily to take care of our nation. In the next month or two, we expect it will ease. Because if you look at how many vaccines we have delivered and others in India have delivered, we are coming close to a point where there is more than enough vaccine stock, especially with us scaling up even further for this year," Poonawalla told the publication.

Also read: India completes over 2 crore COVID-19 vaccinations on PM Modi's birthday

"So, in the next two months, we do expect slow easement of exports. But you have to also check with the government; ultimately it is their decision, and we will go by what they see as appropriate," he added.

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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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India is nearing a level where there is sufficient stock to sustain the vaccination drive, according to Poonawalla.

The country temporarily halted export of vaccines during the fierce second wave of COVID-19 in India. Before that, India had exported doses to several countries.

Manufacturing and supply of doses has ramped up since then. India has administered a total of more than 77 crore (770 million) doses, according to the health ministry's update on September 17.

American news website Axios recently reported that the United States has asked India to resume vaccine exports.

In 2020, SII pledged to provide 550 million doses of Covishield to COVAX, a global initiative to ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccine doses to people in low- and middle-income countries.

Also Read: In Depth | COVID-19 vaccination in America: How the US lost its lead, vaccine hesitancy and the path ahead
Moneycontrol News
first published: Sep 18, 2021 09:54 am

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