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What India's second wave means for its vaccine coverage – and the rest of the world

Farooq Khan/EPA-EFE

What India's second wave means for its vaccine coverage – and the rest of the world

Farooq Khan/EPA-EFE

What India's second wave means for its vaccine coverage – and the rest of the world

Farooq Khan/EPA-EFE

What India's second wave means for its vaccine coverage – and the rest of the world

Farooq Khan/EPA-EFE

India’s devastating second wave has led it to redirect more of its vaccine production towards its domestic immunisation programme.

Rory Horner, University of Manchester

With rich countries having bought up the majority of the world’s COVID-19 vaccines, the rest of the world has relied on India – one of the world’s largest vaccine producers and exporters – to increase access to doses.

But now India’s exports – which include supplies for Covax, the global vaccine-sharing programme, as well as bilateral donations and commercial agreements branded under its “vaccine friendship” programme – are being disrupted. India’s devastating second wave has led it to redirect more of its vaccine production towards its domestic immunisation programme. With so many countries relying on India for supply, this is threatening vaccination progress globally.

The UN secretary general, António Guterres, has hailed India’s vaccine production capacity as “one of the best assets the world has today”.

India is a key supplier to Covax. At the beginning of the year, Covax was forecast to deliver 2.3 billion doses to low-income and middle-income countries in 2021, with more than 1 billion of these produced by the Serum Institute of India, the single largest vaccine manufacturer in the world.

Of the 53.9 million doses shared around the world by Covax up to May 6, 19.8 million were exported from India, with a further 10 million Indian-made doses being supplied directly back to the country.

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