• Monday, May 17, 2021
  • Last Update : 12:56 am

Report: India's vaccine production may come to halt due to US export regulations

  • Published at 11:21 pm April 19th, 2021
AstraZeneca COVISHIELD
File Photo: Vials of AstraZeneca's COVISHIELD, coronavirus disease vaccine are seen inside a visual inspection machine inside a lab at the Serum Institute of India, in Pune, India, 30 November 2020. Picture taken November 30, 2020. Reuters

The US export regulations on necessary raw materials for Covid-19 vaccines will also affect producers in Europe

India’s coronavirus vaccine production may have to be stopped within a few weeks if the United States does not lift the embargo on exports of 37 ingredients necessary to make the vaccine.

This will hamper Bangladesh as well, as the country is currently importing vaccines from the Serum Institute of India (SII).

SII is currently manufacturing at least 100 million doses of Covishield, the Covid-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in a month. 

That might change if the US does not withdraw the export ban, reports The Economist. 

In February, the US invoked the Defence Production Act, in order to help American pharmaceutical firms procure the material they needed for vaccine production, it said.

However, under the act, to export the raw materials to other countries, the firms need to acquire permission first, which requires time and paperwork. If the US government decides it needs the materials, the firms may be barred from exporting them at all.

The export restrictions threaten to hamper vaccine production across the world at a time when coronavirus cases are surging. India is battling a severe second wave of the virus and struggling with shortages of vaccines and other critical equipment.

Bangladesh is also seeing a steep rise in Covid-19 deaths as it is hit with the second wave of the pandemic.

SII CEO Adar Poonawalla tweeted on Friday urging US President Joe Biden to “lift the embargo of raw material exports out of the US...Your administration has the details.”

Suresh Jadhav, SII’s executive director, said: “We are absolutely concerned.”

The company produces 100 million doses of the Covishield vaccine per month. It also plans to start manufacturing 60 to 70 million doses of the Novavax vaccine, said Suresh.

He added that the production of the two vaccines will be affected in the next few weeks, according to The Economist.

SII says it first alerted the American government to the impending problem two months ago.

American export restrictions would also hit vaccine producers in Europe, who need to import special bags from the US in which they make their products, according to The Economist.

Richard Hatchett, the chief of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a global partnership to develop vaccines to stop future epidemics, has also expressed concerns about “constraints on global supply chains.”

The coalition has requested the World Trade Organization for help.

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