Serum Institute resumes exports of Covishield vaccine to COVAX

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Pune based vaccine manufacturer Serum Institute of India has resumed the Covishield vaccine export to COVAX on Friday. The first batch of vaccine consignment left Pune on Friday.

The first batches of its COVISHIELD COVID-19 vaccine left the SII manufacturing facility in Pune earlier today, for distribution to low- and middle-income countries via the COVAX mechanism. SII’s supply of doses via COVAX is expected to increase substantially into Quarter 1 2022, said a statement from SII.

The resumption of exports is linked to SII surpassing its original target to produce 1bn doses of COVISHIELD by the end of this year. SII has reached this milestone ahead of time via rapid expansion of production capacity at its site in Pune, it added further.

Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Serum Institute of India said, “I want to thank our workforce for their superhuman efforts in achieving this major milestone, with 1billion doses of COVISHIELD now produced by SII. We started to invest at-risk in COVID-19 vaccine production back in March 2020 and Serum Institute colleagues have worked tirelessly ever since to get these life-saving doses to people. It’s a huge moment to begin exports again, for us, our partners at COVAX and the low- and middle-income countries we support. The world has largely depended on the low-cost, high-quality pharmaceuticals and vaccines that India has traditionally exported, so we are delighted to support the global vaccination effort once more.

“The resumption of supplies from Serum Institute of India is an important development for COVAX as it enters its busiest period yet for shipping vaccines to participating economies. While COVAX’s portfolio is now much more diversified than it was earlier this year when we received our first SII deliveries, COVISHIELD remains an important product which has the potential to help us protect hundreds of millions of people in the months ahead,” Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance which leads the COVAX Facility said.

In a key development, the Government of India gave nod this week to export the Covid vaccine to the COVAX. Accoring to a source, the government has allowed Serum Institute to export 50 lakh Covishield doses under the UN-backed COVAX global vaccine programme to Nepal, Tajikistan and Mozambique, official sources said. In addition to these three countries, Serum Institute will also export Covishield to Bangladesh under COVAX.

According to the source, the Union government has allowed the commercial export of both vaccines – Covishield and Covaxin – in view of sufficient stock of the vaccine available with states and Union Territories and also with manufacturers. As of Friday morning, over 20.70 Cr balance and unutilized COVID Vaccine doses are still available with the states and UTs to be administered.

COVAX is co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and WHO. India stopped vaccine exports in the last April amid second Covid surge to jab its own population.