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EXCLUSIVE | Bharat Biotech to Export 108 Lakh Covaxin Doses Commercially as Omicron Highlights Vaccine Inequality

India currently has a stockpile of over 22 crore vaccine doses. (REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration)

India currently has a stockpile of over 22 crore vaccine doses. (REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration)

Sources told News18 that Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin will be exported to Paraguay, Botswana, Vietnam, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Cameroon and the UAE. Botswana is among 12 countries where the Omicron variant has been detected.

The Centre has approved commercial exports of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin in view of sufficient stocks of the Covid-19 vaccine available with the states, News18 has learnt.

Sources said the Hyderabad-based vaccine manufacturer will export 108 lakh doses of Covaxin commercially. Officials privy to the development, however, said the quantity of vaccines to be exported will be decided by the Centre based on domestic availability every month.

ALSO READ | As Vaccine Nationalism Puts the World at Risk With Omicron Threat, Is It End of the Road for First World Superiority?

Sources added that Covaxin will be exported to eight countries — Paraguay, Botswana, Vietnam, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Cameroon and the UAE. Botswana in southern Africa is among 12 countries where the Omicron variant of the virus causing Covid-19 has been found.

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A South African doctor who was one of the first to suspect a different coronavirus strain has said that symptoms of Omicron were so far mild and could be treated at home. Dr. Angelique Coetzee, chair of South African Medical Association, said that unlike with Delta, so far patients have not reported loss of smell or taste and there has been no major drop in oxygen levels with the new variant.

Nevertheless, countries have imposed travel bans or curbs on southern Africa to try to stem the spread. India’s move to start commercial exports of Covaxin comes amid resentment among poorer nations that Western nations’ failure to deliver vaccines and resources to the developing world has to more virus mutations.

ALSO READ | How Vaccine Inequality May Have Spurred the Emergence of Omicron and Why the West is to Blame

Covaxin, the inactivated whole-virion vaccine, was approved for emergency use in India on January 3 and was granted an Emergency Use Listing (EUL) by the World Health Organization (WHO) on November 3, 2021.

Recently, the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), was allowed to export 5 million doses of Covishield to the WHO-led vaccine initiative COVAX. Currently India has a stockpile of over 22 crore vaccine doses. The government is yet to take a call on a third dose or booster shot.

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first published:November 29, 2021, 09:42 IST