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NEW DELHI : India will resume exports of covid-19 vaccines from October to meet its commitment on global supplies through COVAX, a multilateral initiative aimed at facilitating global access to coronavirus vaccines, Union minister for health and family welfare Mansukh Mandaviya said on Monday.

The central government will receive more than 30 crore doses in October and 100 crore more doses in the next three months, with production of vaccines being accelerated, the minister said.

“The exports will restart under India’s Vaccine Maitri programme in the next quarter, October to December, in line with our motto of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’. However, vaccination of our own citizens will remain the government’s first priority. India has already administered more than 81 crore cumulative doses of covid-19 vaccines so far," Mandaviya said.

“We administered last 10 crore doses in only 11 days. I expect that we may cross the 1 crore doses mark in single day today again," he added.

The announcement comes 10 days after COVAX cut the forecast for the availability of doses for 2021 by 25%. The major reasons for the reduction in forecast were uncertainty around the resumption of exports by Serum Institute of India (SII), a key COVAX supplier, and increased challenges at manufacturing sites that supply COVAX, which has 11 vaccines in its portfolio, including Covishield.

“The evolving supply landscape has led to a reduction of 25% in anticipated volumes available for supply in 2021 through COVAX. For SII-AstraZeneca and SII-Novavax, continued export restrictions from India are leading to further supply delays, with the most likely scenario assuming no SII supply to COVAX in 2021," according a supply forecast for 2021 and early 2022 by COVAX on 10 September.

The Indian government has clarified time and again that it has not banned the export of covid-19 vaccines but has calibrated shipments keeping in mind domestic requirements.

India is actively involved in indigenous research and production of covid-19 vaccines in India, the health minister said. “The world has been looking up to India’s vaccination drive," he said.

More than 79.58 crore vaccine doses have been provided to states and Union territories so far by the government of India and through direct state procurement category. More than 15 lakh doses that are in the pipeline will be available shortly, according to a separate statement by the Union health ministry.

More than 5.43 crore unutilized covid-19 vaccine doses are available with states and Union territories, it said.

Meanwhile, as many as 30,256 coronavirus cases were reported in the last 24 hours with 296 deaths.

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