Amid a row over vaccine shortage in India, the ministry of external affairs has clarified that the government will not stop the supply of made-in-India vaccines to other nations but at the same time, it'll also ensure the country's domestic needs are taken care of. The MEA asserted that there's no ban on the export of vaccines. "We have always said the supply of made-in-India vaccines abroad would continue taking into account our domestic requirements," said Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi.
He said the ministry is consistently updating the website to reflect the supply of vaccines that are being exported to other nations. "Let me reiterate that there is no ban on the export of vaccines. In fact, the website of our ministry is being regularly updated to reflect the supply of vaccines that are happening on a periodic basis," he said.
Bagchi, commenting on AstraZeneca sending a notice to the Serum Institute of India for not fulfilling its international commitment under 'GAVI' and 'COVAX', said only Serum would be in a better position to answer that. He also said the issue of procurement of raw material from the US had also been taken up with the Biden administration.
The MEA's clarification comes amid an ongoing debate over the export of vaccines with some states, mostly non-BJP ruled, flagging the issue of shortage of vaccines. Maharashtra was the first state to send SoS to the Centre, saying many vaccination centres have to be shut because of a vaccine shortage. Chhattisgarh, Delhi and Odisha also joined Maharashtra, asking the Centre to release more vaccines and allow vaccination of younger people as cases continue to rise at an unprecedented pace.
In response, health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan in a strongly worded statement slammed the states, saying these were "deplorable attempts by some state governments" to distract attention from "their failures and spread panic among the people". Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, interactedwith the chief ministers of various states on the COVID-19 situation virtually on Thursday.
"I told you that you shouldn't worry a bit if the number of cases is high. Don't be under any kind of pressure that your performance is bad because your numbers are high. You just focus on testing, I'm telling you even now. There is no reason to think you are doing badly if your numbers are high...There will be more positive cases if you do more testing," he told the CMs of various states. India reported 1,31,968 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours. A total of 61,899 patients were discharged from hospitals and 780 succumbed to the virus in the past 24 hours.