Global study sees India having edge in Covid-19 vaccines

It will likely take three to four years to manufacture enough vaccines to cover the world’s population, but high-income countries and a few middle-income countries with manufacturing capacity such as India, have already purchased nearly 3.8 bn dose

India has used its manufacturing capability to pre-order 600 million doses of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine and is negotiating for another billion doses, enough to vaccinate at least half the population, according to a new global analysis of advance market commitments (AMCs) for experimental vaccines till October 8. Most experimental Covid-19 vaccines require two doses.

The figures are second only to the US, which has pre-ordered 810 million confirmed doses and has another 1.6 billion under negotiation.

It will likely take three to four years to manufacture enough vaccines to cover the world’s population, but high-income countries and a few middle-income countries with manufacturing capacity such as India, have already purchased nearly 3.8 billion doses, with options for another five billion, showed an analysis of purchasing agreements for Covid-19 vaccines by the US-based Duke Global Health Innovation Center.

“In terms of numbers of confirmed doses, the USA has pre-ordered the largest number (810 million confirmed, another 1.6 billion doses under negotiation), followed by India (600 million doses confirmed, with another 1 billion doses under negotiation), and the EU (400 million doses confirmed, another 1.565 billion doses under negotiation). But in terms of percent of population covered by confirmed purchases, Canada has pre-purchased enough vaccine to cover 527% of their population, followed by the UK at 277% of their population,” said Andrea D Taylor, assistant director of programmes at the Duke Global Health Innovation Center, who led the analysis. “Of course, it is important to remember that most likely only some of the vaccine purchases will come through, depending on regulatory approval,” said Taylor.

“India is producing vaccines to protect the world against Covid-19, why shouldn’t it ensure its own citizens are protected as well? The government is committed to protecting the health of its citizens, so all measures have been taken to ensure we get adequate doses of the vaccines when they are available,” said a senior Union health ministry official, requesting anonymity.

Since none of the experimental vaccines yet have regulatory approval, countries are hedging bets by purchasing multiple candidates and some part of these doses may never materialise. The UK, for example, has made AMCs with five different vaccine candidates, using four different vaccine technologies.

Future agreements under discussion by the EU raise that number of vaccine doses to almost two billion, while the US, which has pre-ordered doses to cover 230% of its population, could eventually control 1.8 billion doses — about a quarter of the world’s near-term supply — according to the analysis.

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