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Here is why vaccines can't be imported immediately to battle coronavirus

Thursday, April 15, 2021 • Tamil Comments

There is an increasing myth that vaccine availability can be ramped up readily if India imports vaccines from Western countries. With some commentators and social media influencers peddling this myth, there is a need to put the record straight.

It's not true that vaccine supply is excessive. In fact, even if we are able to foot the import bill immediately, vaccines are not available for import in large quantities. "Countries which had signed up (or thought they signed up) for AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johson, etc, are still struggling. Pfizer is ramping up European Union supplies only now through June. These firms may now sell in India but that's not going to change the public health picture," wrote Aashish Chandorkar, a columnist. He added that, while discussions in India focus on the feasibility and desirability of vaccine imports (which likely won't materialize anytime soon in any great quantity), the EU is mandating local production for future orders through 2023.

Kartik Sivaraman, a Twitter user, wrote that vaccines are not waiting in cold storage for the Modi government to readily flag them in. "When every country is tightening supplies, the best is to ramp up local production. Hold the government responsible for not enabling local manufacturers to produce more," he added.

Wrote @India_Policy, "When West has banned the export of the input ingredients for the vaccine, making such an assumption (about the ready availability of vaccines for import) is naive."

Pfizer, for example, is not willing to supply vaccines because India is not ready to sign an indemnity bond. Moderna is reportedly too occupied with its existing commitments.

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