Serum Institute of India (SII) on Friday resumed the exports of its COVID-19 vaccine 'Covishield' to the international COVID vaccine sharing programme COVAX.
The first batches of Covishield left the SII manufacturing facility in Pune earlier today, for distribution to low and middle-income countries via the COVAX mechanism. SII's supply of doses via COVAX is expected to increase substantially in Quarter 1 of 2022.
Taking to Twitter, Adar Poonawalla, CEO, Serum Institute of India said, "I am pleased to announce, that the much-awaited COVAX supplies will resume today from Serum Institute of India. This will go a long way in restoring vaccine supply equality in the world and especially in LMICs (low- and middle-income countries)."
According to SII, the resumption of exports is linked to SII surpassing its original target to produce 1billion doses of Covishield by the end of this year. SII has reached this milestone ahead of time via rapid expansion of production capacity at its site in Pune.
To bolster its COVID-19 vaccine output even further, SII said it will bring into production other vaccines under licence. These include COVOVAX, from US-based company Novavax, which received its first Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) from regulators in Indonesia and the Philippines this month. Further regulatory reviews are pending for COVOVAX in India and with the World Health Organization. Novavax has also submitted several additional regulatory filings for its vaccine around the world.
Poonawalla said, "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. It is a huge moment to begin exports again, for us, our partners at COVAX and the low and middle-income countries we support. The world has largely depended on the low-cost, high-quality pharmaceuticals and vaccines that India has traditionally exported, so we are delighted to support the global vaccination effort once more."
Earlier, the Government of India had allowed the SII to start the supply of vaccines to other countries in the world. The supply of COVID vaccines to other countries was banned by the government in April this year.
UNICEF welcomed India's decision to resume COVID-19 vaccine export to COVAX.
"It is much-needed critical support that can help countries of the world to be protected and to recover from the pandemic. As long as the pandemic lingers, its adverse effects will continue on essential services such as health, education and protection for children and young people. Vaccines sharing through COVAX can help tackle the crisis. The global society and countries are dependent on each other to emerge from the pandemic, together. India's recent move to share doses is an encouraging one. We are keen to see the plan in action and other countries benefiting from it," said Yasumasa Kimura, UNICEF India Representative. (ANI)