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SII resumes Covishield exports under COVAX

Image for representation.   | Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

The Serum Institute of India (SII) on Friday officially announced that it has resumed exports of its COVID-19 vaccine Covishield under the international vaccine sharing programme COVAX.

The resumption of exports is linked to the SII surpassing its original target to produce one billion doses of Covishield by this year’s end, a statement issued by SII said, adding that it had reached this milestone ahead of time owing to the “rapid expansion of production capacity” at its Pune facility.

Earlier in the day, the first batches of Covishield left the SII manufacturing facility in Pune for distribution to low- and middle-income countries via the COVAX arrangement. SII’s supply of doses through COVAX is expected to increase substantially in the first quarter of next year, the statement added.

Adar Poonawalla, CEO of SII said in a statement: “I want to thank our workforce for their superhuman efforts in achieving this major milestone, with 1 billion 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.”

Remarking that it was a big moment to resume exports, he said that the world has largely depended on the low-cost, high-quality pharmaceuticals and vaccines that India has traditionally exported.

“We are delighted to support the global vaccination effort once more. I also want to thank our global partners including AstraZeneca, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Gavi, UNICEF and the WHO for their unwavering patience and confidence in our ability to keep on track,” Mr. Poonawalla said. He added that with these global collaborations, the SII was hopeful of meeting the WHO’s target to vaccinate 70% of the world’s population by the middle of next year.

Crucial supplies

Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi (the Vaccine Alliance which leads the COVAX Facility) said in a statement that the resumption of supplies from SII was “an important development” for COVAX as it entered 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. Berkley said.

To bolster its COVID-19 vaccine output even further, SII will bring into production other vaccines under licence including Covovax (from U.S.-based company Novavax) which received its first Emergency Use Authorisations (EUAs) from regulators in Indonesia and the Philippines this month.


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Printable version | Jan 20, 2022 7:37:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sii-resumes-covishield-exports-under-covax/article37703534.ece

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