The COVAX Facility has notified the participating economies that deliveries of doses from the Serum Institute of India (SII) will be delayed in March and April.

The delay in securing supplies of SII-produced Covid-19 vaccine doses has been caused due to the increased demand for them in India.

Separately, participating economies in the COVAX Facility which have been allocated doses from the AstraZeneca manufacturing network have been notified that some first deliveries anticipated in March will now take place in April.

Deliveries of Covid-19 vaccines produced by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) to lower-income economies participating in the COVAX Facility will face delays during March and April as India battles a new wave of Covid-19 infections. COVAX and the Government of India remain in discussions to ensure that some supplies are completed during March and April, said a statement by Gavi, a public–private global health partnership with the goal of increasing access to immunisation in poor countries.

According to the agreement between Gavi and SII, which included funding to support increase in manufacturing capacity, SII is contracted to provide the SII-licenced and manufactured AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine (known as Covishield) to over 60 lower-income economies participating in the Gavi CoVAX AMC (including India), alongside its commitments to the Government of India.

To date, 28 million Covishield doses have been supplied and it is expected that an additional 40 million doses will be available in March, and up to 50 million doses in April.

COVAX has notified all affected economies of the potential delays. SII has pledged that, alongside supplying India, it will prioritise the COVAX multilateral solution for equitable distribution.

The participating economies have also received WHO guidance on optimising the national deployment doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine in a constrained supply environment.

Separately, the COVAX Facility has informed the participants allocated for the AstraZeneca-manufactured doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine that some of the first deliveries due in March are now set to take place in April.

In this early phase, vaccine manufacturers require time to scale and optimise their production processes. AstraZeneca, which uses a novel supply chain network with sites across multiple continents, is working to enable initial supply to 82 countries through COVAX in the coming weeks.

COVAX retains its objective of supplying initial doses of vaccines to all participating economies in the first half of the year before ramping up significantly in the second half of 2021. To date, COVAX has shipped vaccines to over 50 countries and economies.

–IANS

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