India's decision to put restrictions on COVID-19 vaccine exports "disproportionately" impacts developing nations, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Friday.
Laying out a $50 billion proposal to end the COVID-19 pandemic by vaccinating people around the world by the middle of next year, the agency said, "already, various manufacturers including the Serum Institute of India (licensed to manufacture Novavax and AstraZeneca) have experienced substantial delays."
The discussion note drafted by IMF Chief Economist Gita Gopinath and staff economist Ruchir Agarwal further stated that "India has delayed most of its vaccine exports to prioritise vaccinations at home."
The Washington-headquartered financial watchdog added that these delays in vaccine exports impact developing countries severely.
The IMF further mentioned in its report that free cross-border flow of vaccine inputs and supplies is imperative to ensure that the world achieves its vaccination targets without delays. It noted that India is facing production-related issues due to a shortage of critical raw materials.
"India has delayed most of its vaccine exports to prioritize vaccinations at home. Such delays disproportionately impact developing countries - for instance, the Serum Institute is contracted to supply about 85 per cent of the supplies to the COVAX facility, and persistent shortage of raw materials and export restrictions can reduce access to vaccines for 4 billion people in 91 developing countries plus India relying on this facility," the IMF research piece stated.
Only 2 per cent of the population has been inoculated in Africa compared to 40 per cent in the US and 20 per cent in Europe as of April 2021-end. The global financial watchdog also stated that many poor nations won't see large chunks of their populations getting vaccinated until 2023.
The IMF said that the current COVID-19 situation in India and Brazil may just be a warning of what is about to come in other low and middle-income countries. It said, "The ongoing catastrophic second wave in India, following a terrible wave in Brazil, is a sign that the worst may be yet to come in the developing world."
The detailed paper clearly stated that the aim of this plan is to inoculate 40 per cent of the entire population by 2021-end and the remaining 60 per cent by the first half of 2022.
"Saving lives and livelihoods should need no justification, but a faster end to the pandemic could also inject the equivalent of $9 trillion into the global economy by 2025 due to a faster resumption of economic activity," the paper read.
"Advanced economies, likely to spend the most in this effort, would see the highest return on public investment in modern history-capturing 40 percent of the cumulative $9 trillion in global GDP gains and roughly $1 trillion in additional tax revenues," it further added.
Edited by Mehak Agarwal; with agency inputs