Exclusive: EU seeks 10 million vaccines against India’s AstraZeneca to cover shortfall

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A health official extracts a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India, at the Colombo Infectious Diseases Hospital.

By Neha Arora NEW DELHI (Reuters) – The European Union has asked India to allow it to buy 10 million doses of the AstraZeneca (NASDAQ 🙂 COVID-19 vaccine from the Serum Institute of India, a government official told Reuters, the latest sign of mounting pressure on Delhi to export more of its production to other countries. The EU wants doses of Serum, the world’s largest vaccine maker, to make up for supply shortages from AstraZeneca’s European plants and speed up the launch of vaccines from the bloc. However, the EU’s request is unlikely to be quickly approved as India struggles to expand its own national vaccination campaign, said the Indian government official, who asked not to be named as the discussions are private. Britain is also pressuring India to export the second half of the 10 million doses it had ordered from Serum, the source said. Originally, the serum was supposed to produce the AstraZeneca vaccine only for low- and middle-income countries. “The EU ambassador wrote a letter, saying please give us (export) approvals,” the source said, adding that the letter was sent about two weeks ago. Serum, AstraZeneca and the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not respond to requests for comment. A spokeswoman for the EU Commission said the Commission had no immediate comment. India, however, has said it is now focused on expanding its own immunization campaign as COVID-19 cases have risen since March. His decision to focus on his domestic needs, which came after the government was criticized at home for shipping tens of millions of doses abroad, will also affect the WHO-backed global vaccine distribution network known as COVAX. The network aims to secure COVID-19 vaccines primarily for dozens of poorer countries. Production failures have slowed vaccinations for the 450 million people in the EU of 27 countries. The bloc’s per capita immunization lags behind that of countries such as Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States, according to the Our World in Data website https://ourworldindata.org/covid-vaccinations. India has so far exported 64 million doses of vaccines to 83 countries and administered the same number of doses at home. Its inoculation campaign was expanded from Thursday to include all people over the age of 45, which is expected to substantially increase the demand for vaccines. India has reported 12.22 million cases of coronavirus, the third highest number globally after the United States and Brazil. It has recorded nearly 163,000 deaths from COVID-19.

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