India has brought its AstraZeneca exports to a halt, but the UK is still expecting 5 million COVID jabs.
India’s COVID surge
The number of COVID cases have been surging in the Indian subcontinent, forcing the government to take active measures, and shut down the export of the AstraZeneca vaccine. This decision may have serious implications for the vaccination program in the UK, as India was set to deliver 10 million doses. So far, the UK has only received half of that number.
The Serum Institute of India , the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, has been instructed to halt exports as the number of daily infections in the country have risen to over fifty thousand in the past week. A source from the Indian ministry spoke to Reuters and said:
Everything else has taken a backseat, for the time being at least. No exports, nothing till the time the Indian situation stabilises. The government won’t take such a big chance at the moment when so many need to be vaccinated in India.
A new ‘double mutation’ variant has also been detected in the country, and this new revelation has only strengthened the government's determination to hold back the supply which has affected not only the UK, but Brazil and Saudi Arabia as well.
UK’s vaccination program
Despite the delays, British authorities believe that though it will slow things down, they will still be able to keep up with the vaccination program. According to Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, they should be back on track in around a month’s time.
Till now, 29 million people have received their first jab in the UK, and the second one is due before mid-June. AstraZeneca has committed to providing the NHS with two million doses, weekly. And, in order to make optimal use of their Pfizer stock, the vaccination program is now concentrating on providing the second jab to those who have already gotten their first.
But now, with the political tensions rising between the EU and the UK, there is uncertainty about whether or not the UK will have enough vaccines to provide the 10 million with their second jab by June.