FILE - In this Friday, Jan. 8, 2021, file photo, a health worker checks a syringe before performing a trial run of COVID-19 vaccine delivery system, as India's prepare to kick off the coronavirus vaccination drive on Jan. 16, in Gauhati, India. There has been growing apprehensions among health care workers after India took a regulatory shortcut to approve a vaccine by Indian drugmaker Bharat Biotech before late clinical trials showed it was effective in preventing illness from coronavirus infections. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath, File)(AP)
FILE - In this Friday, Jan. 8, 2021, file photo, a health worker checks a syringe before performing a trial run of COVID-19 vaccine delivery system, as India's prepare to kick off the coronavirus vaccination drive on Jan. 16, in Gauhati, India. There has been growing apprehensions among health care workers after India took a regulatory shortcut to approve a vaccine by Indian drugmaker Bharat Biotech before late clinical trials showed it was effective in preventing illness from coronavirus infections. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath, File)(AP)

India to start vaccine for Covid-19 supply with 20 million doses to neighbors

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is keen to tap country's leadership in vaccine manufacturing by helping countries battling the pandemic and raise the South Asian nation’s profile to rival China, which is also supplying its home-grown inoculations around the world.
Reuters
UPDATED ON JAN 14, 2021 08:44 PM IST

India, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of inoculations, plans to offer 20 million doses of coronavirus vaccine to its neighbors as it draws up a policy to supply vials to countries across the globe, people with knowledge of the matter said.

A state-run company will buy vaccines from the Serum Institute of India Ltd. and Bharat Biotech International Ltd. for supplying to Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Seychelles and Mauritius, the people said, asking not to be identified as the plan is still under discussion. Some of supplies may be free and treated as aid, they added.

The first batch of the vials will be shipped over the next two weeks, the people said. The government will then offer the vaccines to countries in Latin America, Africa and the former Soviet republics. A spokesperson for Bharat Biotech couldn’t immediately comment while a spokesman at Serum declined to comment.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is keen to tap country's leadership in vaccine manufacturing by helping countries battling the pandemic and raise the South Asian nation’s profile to rival China, which is also supplying its home-grown inoculations around the world. Brazil, with more than 8 million cases, has sought urgent supplies and so has South Africa.

Brazil is sending an aircraft to India after Modi agreed to expedite vaccine shipments, according to the nation’s Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello. Serum will supply 2 million vaccines to the South American nation.

Serum’s Chief Executive Officer Adar Poonawalla in an interview this month said he expected overseas supplies to only start around March, adding that the government will enable overseas sales after first meeting India’s initial requirements.

The Serum Institute is manufacturing a coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca Plc while Bharat Biotech’s is an indigenous one.

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