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India exported COVID-19 vaccines worth about Rs 338 crore so far: Piyush Goyal

The exports include grant of the vaccine doses to friendly countries and commercial shipments.

February 12, 2021 / 01:48 PM IST

India's exports of the COVID-19 vaccine stood at around Rs 338 crore till February 8, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said in the Rajya Sabha on Friday.

The exports include grant of the vaccine doses to friendly countries and commercial shipments.

Replying to supplementary questions in the House, Goyal said exports of the vaccine started in January.

India is taking care of the domestic vaccine requirement first and based on that "giving vaccines to friendly countries," he 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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"Total export is about Rs 338 crore worth of COVID vaccine," the minister said.

Giving details, Goyal said export of Covishield vaccine manufactured by the Serum Insitute of India, Pune as Government of India grant stood at 62.7 lakh doses with FoB (free on board) value of about Rs 125.4 crore.

Paid exports of 1.05 crore doses were valued at about Rs 213.32 crore.

Goyal said the government has granted permission to the Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech International Limited, Hyderabad for manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines.

Close coordination is being maintained through regular interaction between relevant departments of the Government of India and vaccine manufacturers to ensure adequate availability of COVID-19 vaccines for the national vaccination program, he added.

The minister further said the health ministry is working along with all states, and the Prime Minister is also interacting with all states.

Highest priority for vaccination has been given to healthcare and frontline workers by the government, Goyal said.

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