After a rapid surge of coronavirus infections in India, vaccine exports from the country have slowed to a trickle. The country, which also delivers domestically made doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine under the COVAX initiative, has temporarily halted exports as the second wave is making domestic demand soar. As a result, vaccinations in the country have picked up speed quickly.
Especially the COVAX initiative, which is redistributing vaccines to low-income countries and is relying on the Indian Serum Institute as a major producer, is suffering from the development. After the first ever COVAX delivery (consisting of Indian-made AstraZeneca shots) arrived in Ghana on February 24, 32 million doses were exported under the scheme in the following month. The initiative had planned to ramp up deliveries substantially, expecting to reach approximately 188 million delivered doses by the end of May.
A second AstraZeneca producer, SK Bioscience, which ships vaccine doses for COVAX from South Korea, had initially been off to a slower start than the Indian Serum Institute. As the tally of deliveries to the ten biggest COVAX beneficiaries shows, SK Bioscience has filled only around 10 percent of March-May deliveries to COVAX recipients during March, while the Serum Institute had filled 30 percent for some recipients. Most countries receiving vaccines under COVAX have also purchased doses or received them as donations through other channels, even though amounts vary greatly.