India will begin exporting COVID-19 vaccines “within a fortnight” of their roll-out, the BBC has reported citing a foreign ministry official.
The official dismissed reports that India would ban exports of vaccines it is producing to meet local demand.
“The foreign ministry official confirmed that India’s plan to help other countries was on track,” the BBC’s India correspondent Soutik Biswas reported on Tuesday.
“Within a fortnight of the rollout of the vaccines we will allow exports to some of our South Asian neighbours. Some of these exports will be paid by us as gifts, and the others will be supplied at roughly the same price the government will be buying the vaccines at,” the BBC quoted the official, who preferred to be unnamed, as saying.
“India is completely conscious of its commitments to neighbours and the rest of the world as the world’s biggest vaccine maker,” the official added.
Exports of COVID vaccines are permitted to all countries, Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla tweeted earlier in the day as he tried to clear confusions.
“I would like to clarify two matters; as there is confusion in the public domain, exports of vaccines are permitted to all countries and a joint public statement clearing up any recent miscommunication with regards to Bharat Biotech will be made,” Poonawalla said on Twitter.
Poonawalla’s tweet and the foreign ministry officials’ comments come amid concerns over whether the drug’s arrival in Bangladesh would de be delayed after Serum Institute on Sunday said it intends to concentrate on meeting India’s own immediate demand in the next two months before exporting to other interested countries.
Bangladesh has signed a deal with Serum Institute of India for 30 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. According to the contract, Serum Institute will send five million doses a month.
However, the government has since brushed off concerns about the arrival of the vaccine in the country, stating that the shipments would arrive as planned.
Meanwhile, the Directorate General of Drug Administration also approved the import and emergency use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute, clearing the way for Beximco Pharmaceuticals to ship the shots into the country.
Beximco Pharma is the ‘exclusive distributor’ of the vaccine under the government’s agreement to purchase the doses from Serum Institute.
On Monday, Beximco Pharma Managing Director Nazmul Hassan said Bangladesh will get the vaccine “within the stipulated time”, adding there had been no indication of a delay on the part of Serum Institute.