Sat, October 16, 2021

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India may soon lift ban on export of vaccines under Covax arrangement


NEW DELHI - With the Covid-19 situation in India improving rapidly, there is wide expectation that it would soon resume export of vaccines.

“I would not be surprised if we hear something positive very soon,” said Pratyaya Amrit, the Additional Chief Secretary at the Health Department of India’s Bihar state, on the possible lifting of the ban on export of vaccines to Covax countries.

Covax is a WHO initiative aimed at securing equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines. Its stocks were seriously depleted after India, the world’s largest producer of vaccines, suspended exports when the pandemic situation aggravated a few months ago. Countries such as Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal and many African countries are waiting for resumption of vaccine exports from India.

Both Amrit and Dr Roderico H. Ofrin, WHO Representative to India, declined to predict when the ban would be lifted. They were speaking at a webinar on “India’s Vaccines and Vaccination: Mission Possible”. The event, organised by Asia News Network, was co-hosted by The Statesman, a founding member of the network, and DataLeads.

“India believes in universal brotherhood. Considering the progress at the moment and the way we are moving very close to our target, I would not be surprised if we hear something positive about this very soon,” Amrit said.

Ofrin stressed that it isn’t just the capacity but India’s capability in the ecosystem that makes the country unique.

There is coordination between the department of science and technology (biotech) and the ministry of health and family welfare. India is the pharmacy of the world, and 70 per cent of all vaccines for various diseases are produced there.

“Technical experts are actively involved, with the National Advisory Group for Immunization regularly advising and a national experts group for vaccination setting out policies for national and state level rollout,” said the WHO Representative.

He underscored the motto that “No one is safe until everyone is safe”. He said Covax is working on technology sharing for developing countries to manage their own vaccine manufacturing through intellectual property rights.

Ofrin suggested two other priorities which poor countries with few health resources should adhere to in order to fight the pandemic.

The first is to engage people, communities, and to communicate well with them.

“No amount of vaccines will be able to cut transmission if no one wants to wear masks or wash hands,” he warned.

The second is to look for information, as it is an individual's responsibility to screen information whether from social media, groups of friends and so on.

He said everyone is looking to India because of its success in vaccination and to “prepare India is to prepare the world”.

“Public health is dependent on the public health system, of being able to vaccinate quickly. It's an investment against future disease outbreaks to have a resilient, better-prepared system, from development of vaccines, R&D and rural monitoring, that can face the next disease outbreak,” he said.

 

By Pana Janviroj for Eleven Media

Published : October 09, 2021

By : Eleven Media