Serum Institute to delay vaccine shipments to Saudi Arabia, Brazil and Morocco: Report

Serum Institute to delay vaccine shipments to Saudi Arabia, Brazil and Morocco: Report

SII noted that the company had signed “additional agreements with governments outside the scope of its original sublicense agreement with AstraZeneca”

Days after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain was receiving fewer vaccines than planned for due to a delay in shipment from the Serum Institute of India and other factors, the world’s largest vaccine maker is now reported to be delaying shipments to Brazil, Morocco and Saudi Arabia.

A Reuters report, citing sources with knowledge of the matter, said SII had informed Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Moroccoa that further supplies of its AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine would be delayed due to the surging demand in India, and amid the company’s own capacity expansion.

According to a Times of India report, SII noted that the company had signed “additional agreements with governments outside the scope of its original sublicense agreement with AstraZeneca” and to meet the addition requirements, the company worked on expanding its manufacturing facilities. However, the fire at a manufacturing facility in Pune in January has “caused obstacles” to the company’s expansion of monthly manufacturing output.

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According to the report, SII is working on expanding its monthly production to 100 million doses by April-May, up from the 60-70 million doses being made now. SII has partnered with AstraZeneca, the Gates Foundation and the Gavi vaccine alliance to make up to a billion doses for poorer countries.

India has already sent 40 lakh doses to Brazil, 70 lakh doses to Morocca and 30 lakh doses to Saudi Arabia (out of two crore doses that were ordered), according to the Ministry of External Affairs. Brazil and Saudi Arabia have both ordered two crore doses each.

Besides needing to fulfil its obligations to other countries, SII is also faced with India’s growing domestic urgency for vaccines. A surging second wave of cases has highlighted the need to speed up the pace of vaccinations in the country, a point that was recently noted by the RBI Deputy Governor M.D. Patra.

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