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US export ban could hit Covid vaccine supply, says SII chief

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  • India’s Biological E has tied up with J&J to potentially contract manufacture up to 600 million doses of its vaccine per year.

Reuters, New Delhi

UPDATED ON MAR 06, 2021 03:06 AM IST

A temporary US ban on exports of critical raw materials could limit the production of coronavirus vaccines by companies such as the Serum Institute of India (SII), its chief executive Adar Poonawalla said in a World Bank panel discussion.

SII, the world’s biggest vaccine maker, has licensed the AstraZeneca/Oxford University product and will soon start bulk-manufacturing the Novavax shot. “There are a lot of bags, filters and critical items that manufacturers need,” Poonawalla said on Thursday. “The Novavax vaccine, which we are a major manufacturer of, needs these items from the US.”

He said the recent invocation of the US Defence Production Act to preserve vaccine raw materials for its own companies went against the global goal of sharing vaccines equitably.

The White House said this week it had used the act to help drugmaker Merck & Co produce Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine. “This really needs to be looked at because if they are talking about building capacity all over the world, the sharing of these critical raw materials, which just can’t be replaced in a matter of six months or a year, is going to become a critical limiting factor,” Poonawalla said.

India’s Biological E has tied up with J&J to potentially contract manufacture up to 600 million doses of its vaccine per year. They have signed an initial deal but production volumes have not been agreed upon.

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