Due to surging domestic demand for AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in India, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Morocco are bracing for delay in supplies for the same. This comes amid reports of India being heavily criticized for donating or selling more doses than inoculations conducted in the country and spike in the number in coronavirus infections.
Brazil, as per Reuters, has already received four million doses from Serum Institute of India (SII), Saudi Arabia three million doses and Morocco seven million doses. According to India’s foreign ministry, the three countries had ordered 20 million each. The SII has partnered with AstraZeneca, the Gates Foundation and the Gavi vaccine alliance to make up to a billion doses for poorer countries.
Reuters quoted an anonymous source saying that SII was working on expanding its monthly production to 100 million doses by April/May, from 60 million to 70 million now. Initially, SII was to sell vaccines only to middle and low-income countries, mainly in Asia and Africa, but production issues at other AstraZeneca facilities prompted it to ship to many other countries, as well on the British company’s behalf. In regards to delays in UK supplies, an AstraZeneca spokesman had said the UK domestic supply chain is not experience any disruption.
There had also been reports of the European Union threatening to ban SII’s COVID-19 vaccine exports. Ursula von der Leyen, EU chief, threatened to halt exports of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccines if the bloc did not receive its promised deliveries first. “We have the option of banning a planned export. That’s the message to, you fulfil your contract with Europe first before you start delivering to other countries,” she said.
Von der Leyen said the Anglo-Swedish pharma giant had delivered only 30% of the 90 million vaccine doses it had promised for the first quarter of the year. But AstraZeneca blamed the production delays at its EU plants. EU officials are furious that the company has been able to deliver its UK contract, while falling short on the continent.