The Indian government will not allow the export of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India for several months. The coronavirus vaccine was granted approval for emergency use authorisation by the Indian drug regulator on Sunday. Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla said in an interview that the emergency use approval was granted on the condition that the company does not export the shots to ensure that the vulnerable in India are protected.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Poonawalla said that the company has also been barred from selling the vaccine on the private market. "We can only give the vaccines to the government of India at the moment," he said to the news agency.
Serum Institute has been contracted to make 1 billion doses of the coronavirus vaccine for developing nations. However, with this suspension on export, other nations would have to wait a few months before receiving their first shots.
The export of vaccines for COVAX -- the initiative created to ensure equitable access to coronavirus vaccines -- won't begin till March or April, said Poonawalla.
The Serum CEO said that the company is in the process of signing a larger contract with COVAX for 300 million - 400 million doses, apart from the order of 100 doses each for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine as well as the Novavax vaccine. The first 100 million doses are being sold to the Indian government at a 'special price' of Rs 200 or $2.74. Prices subsequently will be higher and will be sold on the private market at Rs 1,000 or $13.68 per dose.
Once the deal is finalised with the government, the vaccines would be delivered to the states.
By December 2021, Serum would give 200 million to 300 million doses of the vaccine to COVAX. "We can't vaccinate everybody right now. We can prioritise," he said.
Serum is also negotiating deals with countries like Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia and Morocco.