New Delhi: As India tries to expand its COVID-19 vaccination drive in order to prevent another surge in infections in the possible third wave of COVID-19, the country expects to receive 3 to 4 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine shots through the COVAX facility by August.
According to a report in Reuters, COVAX, led by the GAVI vaccine alliance and the World Health Organization (WHO), could ship the US-made doses to India as early as this month, reveals one of the sources aware of the discussions.
“It’s a donation through COVAX," said the source. Reuters reported that both sources declined to be named as the discussions are private.
However, both the pharmaceuticals companies, Pfizer and Moderna, did not immediately reply to Reuters’ e-mails seeking comment. Additionally, GAVI and India’s foreign ministry also did not reply to queries possessed by the news agency.
Meanwhile, it should be noted that India is the world’s biggest producer of vaccines overall. Till now, the country has donated or sold more than 66 million doses of COVID-19 shots before a the surge in infections in the second wave of COVID-19 forced it to divert all domestic output to inoculate its own people from April.
The country has so far administered 358.1 million vaccine doses – the most in the world after China – giving at least one dose to 31% of its estimated adult population of 944 million.
India mainly relies on a licensed version of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Many experts believe that the country needs to administer at least 10 million doses a day to achieve its aim of immunising all adults by December. However, India administered about 4 million doses a day in the week to July 2.
Apart from Moderna and Pfizer, India has also been courting Johnson & Johnson for vaccine supplies. J&J has already signed a manufacturing agreement with India’s Biological E. Ltd though production has yet to start.
A J&J spokesperson in India said the company was looking to expedite vaccine supplies to the country.
“We are exploring how best to accelerate our ability to deliver our vaccine to the people of India through our global COVID-19 vaccine supply network, including our partnership with Biological E. Limited," the spokesperson told Reuters in an e-mail.
(With Reuters inputs)