Covid-19 roundup: India nudges US to lift materials export ban as cases surge
Facing the world’s worst coronavirus surge, India is focusing its attention on a US ban of raw materials exports to try to meet spiking domestic demand for vaccines.
Indian health officials have asked US diplomats to lift the ban, which the US had invoked as part of the Defense Production Act to keep the materials on its own shores, Reuters reported Monday. Though India is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, the export ban threatens to slow down its vaccine drive just as cases have begun to skyrocket, two government officials told Reuters.
The US has responded to the request and told India that they would act “at the earliest,” the official reportedly said. Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar also noted in a tweet that he and Secretary of State Antony Blinken had discussed issues related to the pandemic, though didn’t get into specifics.
In order to counteract its newest surge, India has stopped exporting its own raw materials as well as AstraZeneca vaccines. Largely produced by the Serum Institute of India, the shots are being redirected toward India’s own population. The move has limited the amount of vaccines supplied to the World Health Organization’s COVAX vaccine-sharing facility.
But Jaishankar said the country is still aiming to meet its promises, in addition to pushing other nations to help with its own surge.
“I am pushing other countries, particularly some big countries, saying ‘Look, please keep the raw materials flowing for the vaccines to be made in India,’” he told Reuters, without naming any country.
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