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India says Covid vaccine exports to restart in October

India says Covid vaccine exports to restart in October

A van carries boxes of Covishield vaccine to different vaccination centres in Allahabad on January 15, 2021, a day before India starts the first phase of vaccination across the country.

Photo credit: Sanjay Kanojia | AFP

New Delhi,

India will resume exporting Covid-19 vaccines from October, five months after it halted sending supplies overseas as it battled a deadly wave of infections, the health minister said Monday.

The South Asian giant, dubbed the "pharmacy of the world", was a major supplier to the Covax programme aimed at boosting immunisation in poorer nations.

Exports stopped in April, according to foreign ministry data, when a virus surge in India pushed the healthcare system to breaking point and there was a huge demand for jabs.

Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said more than 300 million vaccine doses would be produced in October and one billion in the last three months of the year.

"India will be resuming export of vaccines... in order to fulfill the commitment of India towards Covax," Mandaviya said in a statement.

"The surplus supply of vaccines will be used to fulfill our commitment towards the world for the collective fight against Covid-19."

Launched in January, India's vaccination campaign was slow to take off because of shortages and hesitancy among the population.

But the pace has picked up in recent weeks, with authorities currently administering between five to eight million coronavirus shots every day.

The country hit a record 22 million coronavirus jabs in a day on Friday as part of a special vaccination drive for the birthday of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.