India says it has not banned vaccine exports

New Delhi, Apr 2 (efe-epa).- The Indian government on Friday said it had not imposed a ban on vaccine exports but that domestic use was currently a priority.

The statement came after vaccine manufacturers in India were hit by delivery delays.

Foreign ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said: “India has taken the lead of sending vaccines abroad. No country has shared with the world the number of vaccines that India has while vaccinating its own population.”

He added that vaccines were primarily for “domestic consumption.”

”I want to emphasize that we have not imposed any export bans on vaccines,” he said, adding that India had supplied vaccines to over 80 countries.

Known as “the world’s pharmacy” for its ability to produce low-cost drugs en masse, India is one of the few nations that both produces and exports Covid-19 vaccines.

The Serum Institute of India, one of the leading manufacturers of the AstraZeneca-Covishield vaccine, and the Bharat Biotech laboratory, which produces the domestically-made Covaxin booster, earmark the majority of their products for India, the world’s second-highest population with 1.35 billion inhabitants.

As part of its vaccine diplomacy, India also allows some vaccine products to be exported and has so far sent 64.4 million doses to over 80 countries, according to the foreign ministry.

Those exports began on 20 January to neighboring countries like the Maldives and Bhutan. The most recent deliveries were sent to Palestine, Yemen and again to the Maldives.

Some 10.4 million doses were donations, 35.8 million were commercial deals and roughly 18.2 million were distributed via the World Health Organization’s Covax mechanism.

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