Highlights:

  • The Union government has permitted the SII to export 5 million doses of Covisheild under COVAX
  • On November 24, Nepal was listed to obtain the first batch
  • In April 2021, the Centre ceased the export of COVID-19 vaccine

Adar Poonawalla led Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer will recommence its supply of Covishield, the vaccine against COVID-19, under the COVAX programme. Reportedly, the Union government has permitted the SII to export 5 million doses of Covisheild under COVAX, supported by the United Nations, to Nepal, Bangladesh, Tajikistan and Mozambique.

On November 24, Nepal was listed to obtain the first batch. However, the delivery has been delayed. On Monday, a Serum Institute official remarked, “The first consignment from the main Pune facility was scheduled to leave for Nepal today. However, the delivery has been delayed by two-three days due to some reason. The exact date of the consignment dispatch is still awaited.”

In April 2021, the Centre ceased the export of COVID-19 vaccine as a severe second wave slammed the country. Nevertheless, with the second wave under control, the supply to COVAX was likely to begin soon.

Covishield is the Indian variant of Britain’s Oxford University AstraZeneca jab and is developed by the SII under that name in India. It is reported to be one of the two most widely used jabs in the country, another being Covaxin manufactured by the Hyderabad based Bharat Biotech International Limited. Covishield and Covaxin were the first two shots to achieve emergency use authorisation (EUA) in India for the vaccination drive, which commenced on January 16.

On the other hand, COVAX stands for ‘COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access’. It is co-headed by Gavi, World Health Organization (WHO) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI). The initiative allows access to coronavirus vaccines, tests, therapies for low to middle-income countries.

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