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Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Serum Institute despatches 1st batch of vaccine shots for Covax programme

Covax, led by the World Health Organization and the GAVI alliance, has struck agreements with manufacturers for two billion doses in 2021 and has the option for another billion

Serum Institute of India on Tuesday despatched its first batch of vaccine shots for the Covax global inoculation programme. Covax, led by the World Health Organization and the GAVI alliance, has struck agreements with manufacturers for two billion doses in 2021. The world's largest vaccine manufacturer has signed deals to produce AstraZeneca and Novavax vaccines.

WHO Southeast Asia tweeted photos of the first shipments being loaded onto a truck at Serum's manufacturing facility in Pune in western India.

Novavax has earlier agreed to provide 1.1 billion doses of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine for use in more than 190 low and middle income countries.

Pune-based company is manufacturing the Oxford University/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, one of the two shots that India is using to initially vaccinate some 300 million people as part of a national inoculation drive

The company's head Adar Poonawalla on Sunday urged other countries to be "patient", saying it had been instructed to prioritise its home market over exports.

"We are trying our best," Poonawalla said.

Many low-and middle-income countries, ranging from Bangladesh to Brazil, are depending on SII's AstraZeneca vaccine. But demand is growing, including from Western countries like Canada, where Poonawalla has promised to deliver the COVISHIELD vaccine next month.

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