India Halts Oxford-AstraZeneca Vaccine Exports

India has halted all exports of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.

Foreign ministry sources told the BBC that the rising cases meant domestic demand was expected to pick up in the coming weeks, and so the doses were needed for India's own rollout.

India will focus on its domestic vaccination program following a spike in Covid-19 cases and the planned expansion of the immunization drive, and there will be no expansion of vaccine exports, people familiar with developments said on Wednesday.

The people said on condition of anonymity that there will be no ban on exports, though supplies to other countries will be made only after meeting domestic needs. They also said future exports are linked to the ramping up of domestic production capacities.

The move - described as a "temporary squeeze" by officials - is expected to affect supplies until the end of April.

Some 190 countries under the Covax scheme are likely to be affected.

India's largest vaccine manufacturer, the Serum Institute of India (SII), has delayed shipments of the AstraZeneca jab to several countries in recent days, including the UK and Brazil.

India has exported more than 60 million vaccine doses to 76 countries so far, with the majority of these being the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab.

Bangladesh's health ministry signed a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding with the Serum Institute in India and Beximco in November last year to import the vaccine developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca.

About three crore doses have been secured, which Serum would deliver over a period of six months – 50 lakh a month. 

The first consignment of 50 lakh doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine arrived in Dhaka on 25 January. 

The second batch of 2 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from Serum arrived here on 22 February.

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