The GAVI vaccine alliance hopes the Serum Institute of India (SII) will resume exports of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine from this quarter, it told Reuters, which would be earlier than an “end of this year” forecast by the Indian company.
GAVI co-leads the COVAX facility for equitable distribution of COVID-19 shots around the world. COVAX suffered a big jolt in April when big vaccine producer India stopped all overseas shipments to meet local demand as infections rose dramatically.
India’s coronavirus crisis has now eased and output of the AstraZeneca drug at SII, the world’s biggest vaccine maker, has also jumped, but so has domestic demand.
“We remain hopeful that SII deliveries will resume in the third quarter, however, this cannot be confirmed at this stage,” a GAVI spokesperson said in an email late on Tuesday.
“In the meantime, COVAX has been aggressively following through on its strategy of diversifying its portfolio, securing over a billion additional doses in the past month alone either through direct procurements or through dose sharing.”
SII did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A source close to SII said the company was focused on supplying to India for now. It said in May that it hoped to “start delivering to COVAX and other countries by the end of this year”.
India’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to queries from Reuters.
Bangladesh’s health minister told reporters on Tuesday that SII could restart supplies to it from August. The country, suffering from a resurgence in infections, has received only 7 million doses out of 30 million it has ordered from the company.
(Reporting by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)