The Serum Institute of India (SII) has told Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Morocco that further supplies of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine will be delayed due to surging demand at home and as it works through a capacity expansion, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said.
India, the world’s biggest vaccine maker, is being criticised domestically for donating or selling more doses than it is administering at home, despite reporting the most number of coronavirus infections after the US and Brazil.
India is in the midst of a second surge of cases, taking its total to about 11.6m. The latest delays, first reported by the Times of India, came to light days after Britain said it would have to slow its Covid-19 vaccine programme next month as SII was likely to deliver doses later than expected.
SII has supplied half of the 10m doses recently ordered by Britain.
Brazil has already received 4m doses from SII, Saudi Arabia 3m doses and Morocco 7m, according to India’s foreign ministry. The three countries had ordered 20m each.
Reuters could not immediately contact representatives for the countries or determine whether they had agreed to a revised delivery schedule.
SII, the single biggest maker of vaccines, declined to comment. It has partnered with AstraZeneca, the Gates Foundation and the Gavi vaccine alliance to make up to a billion doses for poorer countries.
The source, who declined to be identified, said SII was working on expanding its monthly production to 100m doses by April or May, from 60m-70m now.
SII was originally supposed to sell vaccines only to middle- and low-income countries, mainly in Asia and Africa, but production issues at other AstraZeneca facilities forced it to ship to many other countries as well on the British company’s behalf.
India has so far donated 8m doses and sold nearly 52m doses to a total of 75 countries, mainly the AstraZeneca shot made by SII. India has administered more than 44m doses since starting its immunisation campaign in the middle of January.