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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."

Go deeper: Head of world's largest vaccine maker urges Biden to lift export ban on raw materials

Go deeper

May 18, 2021 - Health

U.S. confronted by calls for larger effort in vaccine exports

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

President Joe Biden's plan to share an additional 20 million COVID-19 vaccine doses overseas brings the U.S. total exports to 80 million. But experts and some policymakers say it's not enough.

Driving the news: The world has reached a situation of "vaccine apartheid", World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday, saying "the big problem is a lack of sharing."

May 18, 2021 - Health

Eyebrows raise over another senior CDC departure

Shoshana Gordon/Axios

As some public health experts continue to criticize the rollout of the CDC's new mask guidance, a top CDC official announced her retirement yesterday — the second in a month.

Why it matters: Although the agency has taken a decidedly more pro-science approach to the pandemic under the Biden administration than it did under Trump's, the trio of negative headlines suggest lingering turmoil.