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A healthcare worker administering a coronavirus vaccine in Amritsar, India, on April 15. Photo: Sameer Sehgal/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

The CEO of the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest maker of vaccines, asked President Biden on Friday to lift a U.S. export embargo on raw materials for vaccines, saying it is hampering vaccine production in other parts of the world.

Why it matters: Equitably producing and distributing coronavirus vaccines may be the defining global challenge of 2021 and a crucial step to controlling the pandemic, as prolonged unequal access to vaccines may allow the virus to spread and dangerously mutate in unvaccinated parts of the world.

Context: The Serum Institute of India is also a key supplier of the United Nations-back COVAX facility, which was created to help pool global resources to produce and offer vaccines to all countries regardless of their wealth.

What they're saying: "If we are to truly unite in beating this virus, on behalf of the vaccine industry outside the U.S., I humbly request you to lift the embargo of raw material exports out of the U.S. so that vaccine production can ramp up," Adar Poonawalla, CEO of the Serum Institute of India, said.

  • Poonawalla previously told AP that the unavailability of these raw materials could delay the production of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Novavax by five to six months.
  • Serum Institute and Novavax agreed to supply 1.1 billion doses of the vaccine to COVAX, though the company announced in March that it was forced to pause exports to COVAX because of a massive surge in cases in India.

The big picture: 10 U.S. senators sent a letter to the White House on Thursday night urging Biden to back India and South Africa's appeal to the World Trade Organization to lift intellectual property rules for vaccines, AP reports.

  • The temporary waiver, supported by more than 100 countries, may allow nations that are struggling to inoculate their populations to manufacture vaccines faster.

Go deeper: India's second wave hits the whole world through vaccine export curbs

Go deeper

J&J vaccine pause hurts its reputation

Reproduced from Economist/YouGov poll; Chart: Axios Visuals

Americans' confidence in the safety of Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine took a big dip this week after the pause in its use, per new YouGov polling, even though the risk of blood clots following the shot is extremely low, if it exists at all.

Why it matters: For the majority of people, particularly high-risk Americans, getting the J&J shot is almost certainly less dangerous than remaining vulnerable to the coronavirus.

Apr 15, 2021 - Health

Pfizer CEO: Booster shot "likely" needed within 12 months of getting fully vaccinated

Nils Buecheler, a sophomore at Barry University, receives a Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine from Jason Rodriguez, a pharmacy student, at the Jackson Memorial Hospital on April 15 in Miami, Florida. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

People will "likely" need a third shot of the Pfizer vaccine as a booster within 12 months of being fully vaccinated, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told CNBC on Thursday.

Why it matters: COVID-19 vaccine boosters are expected to become a regular part of life for years to come, as variants continue to spread and become dominant strains in some countries.

Updated 11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Benefits of J&J COVID-19 vaccine outweigh risks, per CDC data — Vaccine boosters are increasingly likely.
  2. Health: Some states trim COVID reporting as Delta cases surge — Fauci: New masking guidelines for vaccinated Americans under "active consideration".
  3. Politics: White House boosts funding for COVID testing in vulnerable communities — Prominent Republicans find new enthusiasm for COVID-19 vaccines.
  4. Sports: Golfer Bryson DeChambeau will miss Olympics after testing positive for COVID— NFL raises vaccine pressure
  5. World: Israel to require vaccine certificates to attend social events.
  6. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.