May 18, 2021 - World

World's largest vaccine maker expects to resume exports by end of 2021

A Serum Institute of India truck driving in Maharashtra, India, on May 5.

A Serum Institute of India truck driving in Maharashtra, India, on May 5. Photo: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg via Getty Imagesg

The Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest maker of vaccines, announced Tuesday that it expects to resume exporting coronavirus vaccines by the end of 2021.

Why it matters: The delay could be a major setback for the United Nations-backed COVAX initiative, which was created to help pool resources to produce and distribute coronavirus vaccines to countries regardless of their wealth.

Context: The institute was forced to pause exports in March because of a massive surge in cases in India.

  • Serum Institute and vaccine developer Novavax agreed to supply 1.1 billion doses of Novavax's coronavirus vaccine to COVAX.
  • Prolonged, unequal access to vaccines may allow the coronavirus to spread and dangerously mutate in unvaccinated parts of the world.

What they're saying: "The Covid-19 crisis has been difficult on people across the globe, including India," Adar Poonawalla, CEO of the Serum Institute of India, said in a statement Tuesday.

  • "We must also understand that this pandemic is not limited by geographic or political boundaries. We will not be safe until everyone globally is able to defeat this virus."
  • "Another important factor that people do not tend to realize is that we are amongst the two most populous countries in the world, a vaccination drive for such a large population cannot be completed within 2-3 months, as there are several factors and challenges involved. That said, it would take 2-3 years for the entire world population to get fully vaccinated."
  • "We would like to reiterate that we have never exported vaccines at the cost of the people of India and remain committed to do everything we can in the support of the vaccination drive in the country."

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