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Demand for Made-in-India Coronavirus vaccine soar as Brazil, South Africa order shipments, China concedes India’s domain expertise

On Friday, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro requested Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to expedite a shipment of Covishield vaccine, developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, and manufactured by Serum Institute of India, following a delay in the arrival of the vaccine.

Bolsonaro’s letter comes at a time when his government is under fierce criticism due to a delay in the rollout of the vaccination programme in the country. It is pertinent to remember that Brazil has been witnessing one of the deadliest Coronavirus outbreak in the world with 6,99,904 active cases. With questions lingering over government efficiency, Jair Bolosnaro has decided to step in and request the Indian government to expedite the shipment for Covishield vaccine.

He wrote, “To enable the immediate implementation of our National Immunization Program, I would appreciate … the supply to Brazil, with the possible urgency and without jeopardizing the Indian vaccination program, of 2 million doses.” Although the shipment from India was scheduled to arrive in Brazil on Saturday, it is assumed that it might not arrive before the end of January.

Meanwhile, Brazil’s federally funded Fiocruz biomedical centre is planning to import more finished doses of Covisheild vaccine from India, besides 2 million that it has ordered previously.

South Africa to order 1.5 million vaccines from India

On Thursday, the Health Ministry of South Africa announced that it would order 1 million vaccines from India and 0.5 million in February. It added that the Health Ministry had been working closely with SAHPRA to ensure no delay in the vaccination programme.

Addressing Parliament’s portfolio committee on health, health minister Zweli Mkhize said the imported vaccines would be used to vaccinate frontline healthcare workers. “Today we announce that South Africa will be receiving the first one million doses of vaccine in January and another 500,000 in February from the Serum Institute of India,” Mkhize said.

“At the time I could not disclose further details. I am pleased to announce that the Serum Institute of India has given us permission to make public an announcement and start engaging with the relevant stakeholders in preparation for the rollout (of the vaccine),” the minister told Parliament.

China concedes that the potential of Made-in-India Coronavirus vaccines

Reportedly, China has also accepted the domain expertise of India in its indigenous production of Coronavirus vaccines. Chinese mouthpiece, Global Times, conceded, “Experts suggested that India’s vaccines are no less competitive than Chinese Covid-19 vaccines in both research and production capacity, considering that India has the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer and lower costs in labour and facilities.”

Although Global Times dubbed the move as a political tool for brand building and checking Chinese influence internationally, it quoted experts to reiterate that India’s vaccine production capacity and research was at par with China.

Quoting expert Jiang Chunlai, it said, “India has the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer Serum Institute of India that has a very mature production and supply capacity, even stronger than some Western countries. Indian vaccine manufacturers also have much earlier cooperation with global institutes including WHO, GAVI and the Pan American Health Organization in South America (PAHO), and earned their trust decades ago”

PM Modi highlights self-reliance of India in fighting Coronavirus outbreak

On Saturday, PM Narendra Modi informed that India has become self-reliant in fighting the pandemic during the inauguration of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) convention on Saturday. He stated, “India used to import PPE kits, masks, ventilators and testing kits from outside but today our nation is self-reliant. Today India is ready to save humanity with two ‘Made in India’ Covid-19 vaccines.” PM Modi said that the whole world has been waiting in anticipation of how India would roll out its vaccination programme and the impact the Made-in-India vaccines would have on the world.

Modi govt plans to roll out Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine

After India’s Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) approved the emergence use of Covishield (developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca) vaccine on January 1, plans were undertaken by the Modi government to roll-out the immunisation programme.

As such, a dry run was scheduled in at least three ‘session sites’ in every state capital and districts with poor logistical support. The objective of the government, behind this exercise, was to assess the on-field situation of the vaccination process. At the same time, a total of 96000 vaccinators have been trained to execute the inoculation programme.

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