Adar Punawara, chief executive of India’s largest vaccine manufacturer, posted on social media on Twitter on Wednesday, demanding that U.S. President Joseph Biden lift a ban on exports of raw materials related to the Coronavirus vaccine.
“Call Biden directly”
“(The President of the United States Twitter account), if we do unite against the (Coronavirus) virus, I will only implore you, on behalf of vaccine manufacturers outside the United States, to lift the ban on U.S. exports of raw materials so that (Coronavirus) vaccine production can be accelerated,” Punawara wrote in a tweet. ”
Biden did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Twitter.
The AFP’s “extraordinary” assessment of Punawara’s use of social media to shout at the US government highlights the vaccine shortage crisis facing developing countries. Many developing countries are “heavyly dependent” on the Indian Serum Institute to obtain Coronavirus vaccine.
According to Reuters, Mr. Punawara’s diplomatic efforts had not been successful before Mr. Biden spoke directly.
Last April, then-U.S. President Donald Trump used the Defense Production Act to increase the production of Coronavirus vaccination-related medical supplies. Indian vaccine makers and experts have expressed concern about the U.S. approach, saying the U.S. move could trigger a halt in exports of key raw materials and limit vaccine production elsewhere.
The Serum Institute of India, the largest supplier of the Coronavirus Vaccine Implementation Plan (COVAX), a global access mechanism for Coronavirus vaccines, had pledged to supply at least 2 billion doses of Coronavirus vaccine to low- and middle-income countries, nearly half of which would be delivered by the end of the year.
At the same time, the Serum Institute of India has also taken orders from rich countries such as the UK, Canada and Saudi Arabia to produce a Coronavirus vaccine jointly developed by AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals and Oxford University.
India’s outbreak is tight, with more than 200,000 new confirmed cases reported in a single day reported on the 15th. The Government of India has suspended large-scale exports of AstraZeneca vaccines produced by the Indian Serum Institute, giving priority to domestic demand.
Restrictions on vaccine exports have affected the finances of India’s Serum Institute, prompting it to turn to the Indian government for help, the Associated Press reported.
U.S. Enterprise Vaccines Affected
Punawara warned that the development of a Coronavirus vaccine by Novaks, a U.S. company produced by the Indian Serum Institute, could delay delivery due to U.S. export restrictions.
Punawara previously told The Associated Press that production of the Novavax vaccine could be delayed by up to six months because of the lack of access to the raw materials needed to produce the vaccine. “The export ban is effectively tantamount to a ban on vaccines,” he told Indian media.
The Serum Institute of India has signed an agreement with Novaks to supply 1.1 billion doses of Novavax vaccine to the COVAX mechanism to promote equitable distribution of vaccines worldwide.
The Serum Institute of India had planned to produce up to 40 million doses of Novavax vaccine per month, and increasing vaccine production capacity would help India fight the outbreak. Novaks has applied to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the European Medicines Agency and the World Health Organization for an emergency use authorization.
Once approved for use by these agencies, approval of the Novaks vaccine in India will be accelerated. Under India’s new approval rules, regulators will give the green light to vaccines approved by regulators in the UK, US, Europe, Japan or WHO.