India to export vaccines soon? Modi government meets amid increasing requests from other countries for supply of COVID-19 jabs

NEW DELHI: A multi-ministerial meeting on Monday discussed various aspects of India’s possible export of COVID-19 vaccines in view of requests from an increasing number of countries to procure the vaccines, people familiar with the development said.

The issue was discussed extensively at the virtual meeting attended by representatives from various ministries and agencies, including the Department of Pharmaceuticals and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), they said.

They said the ministries of health, commerce, external affairs and the Department of Pharmaceuticals are among the key stakeholders involved in the possible export of the vaccines.

India has already rolled out a massive coronavirus vaccination drive under which two vaccines, Covishield and Covaxin, are being administered to frontline health workers across the country.

While Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covishield is being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, Covaxin is being produced by Bharat Biotech.

Several countries have approached India for the procurement of the vaccines.

It is learnt that countries in India’s neighbourhood are likely to get the supplies first.

On Thursday, MEA Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said the government is assessing the production schedules and availability of the COVID-19 vaccines, and any decision on their supply to other countries “may take some time”.

“In so far as requests from countries for vaccines from India, you would recall that Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) has already stated that India’s vaccine production and delivery capacity would be used for the benefit of all humanity in fighting this crisis,” he had said at a media briefing.