KATHMANDU, JUNE 22
The government of India could resume exporting Covid-19 vaccines, according an Indian government official.
India, which is the largest manufacturer of COVID-19 jabs, had to halt vaccine export as domestic demand for inoculation surged amid catastrophic second wave of the pandemic.
The decision had largely impacted Nepal's vaccination drive as India could not deliver the promised doses of Covishield vaccines that Nepal had purchased from India and had already paid for which. As a result, over a million people, senior citizens in particular, that had already received the first dose, couldn't be administered the booster dose.
"Once our immediate need of vaccinating a significant proportion of Indian people is achieved and vaccine stockpiles are visible from multiple sources, we would then like to provide vaccines to others," Vinod Kumar Paul, a member of the NITI Aayog member (health), was quoted as saying to AP.
However, Paul did not ascertain any timeline for resumption of vaccine export.
Despite the optimism expressed by Paul, critics have pointed that both vaccine manufacturers in India--Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech-- are struggling to pick pace with increasing vaccine manufacturing, more so when other domestic vaccine candidates are still in trial phase.
According to Paul, India can expect to process at least 740 million doses between August and December, but the aforementioned quantity is inclusive of 300 million vaccines that are still in late testing stage.
Should India resume the export of vaccines, the additional supplies would bring about a much needed respite for Nepal and its COVID-19 vaccination drive that has currently gone into turmoil, could pick up pace.