After reports emerged that Pakistan will receive made-in-India coronavirus vaccines, multiple claims were made regarding its supply. BJP member Surendra Poonia tweeted that Pakistan “requested” for made-in-India COVID vaccine under Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI).
Finally Pakistan requests for made in India Covid Vaccine under Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation program.@fawadchaudhry लगवा लेना अब 😊
— Major Surendra Poonia (@MajorPoonia) March 6, 2021
Times Now took down its tweet stating India will supply 45 million doses of vaccines and tweeted again with additional information about GAVI.
Punjab Kesari went a step further and said that India has taken the commendable step of giving free vaccines to Pakistan. The article attached to the tweet is no longer available.
— Punjab Kesari (@punjabkesari) March 12, 2021
India is at the centre of global vaccine manufacturing with the capacity to produce vaccines for itself and other developing countries. “India has been a manufacturing hub for vaccines … even before the pandemic, and should therefore be a strategic partner in the global inoculation against COVID-19,” JPMorgan analysts wrote in a January 2021 report, per CNBC.
International vaccine alliance COVAX will supply 45 million doses of Indian made Oxford-AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine to Pakistan this year, according to a report in Pakistan-based The Nation. India is neither directly providing the vaccines nor has Pakistan made a request for Covishield, which is the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine licensed and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII).
The vaccines have been allocated and funded through COVAX, co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi and the World Health Organization (WHO), alongside UNICEF. COVAX aims to provide equal access to vaccines to 190 participating countries, both self-financed and funded. It has made arrangements to access nearly two billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine candidates on behalf of the participating economies. COVAX has existing agreements with the Serum Institute of India for 200 million doses of vaccines (with options for up to 900 million doses more).
The global alliance has recognised 92 middle-and lower-income countries that cannot fully afford to pay for COVID-19 vaccines themselves. Both Pakistan and India are among the funded countries. Once vaccines are licensed and prequalified by the WHO, COVAX AMC (Advance Market Commitment) funds will pay for the purchase of doses for all 92 ODA (Official Development Assistance)-eligible countries. The global alliance aims to vaccinate no more than 20% of the population of the participating countries.
Till now, COVAX has only released details of the first round of allocation. “This first round of allocation outlines the delivery of doses of the AZ/Oxford vaccine – manufactured by AstraZeneca (AZ) and COVISHIELD, licensed to and manufactured by Serum Institute of India (SII/AZ) – to 142 Facility participants,” says its website.
Pakistan will receive 14,640,000 doses of the SII/AZ vaccine by May 2021.
COVAX allocates vaccines to the participating countries based on a number of factors – the level of threat, mortality rate, number of sick healthcare workers, logistical considerations, etc. These can be read in detail here.
How is India supplying vaccines?
The Indian government is keeping a track of vaccines delivered to other countries through Vaccine Maitri. Details of the supply can be found on the website of the Ministry of External Affairs. Pakistan is yet to receive vaccines hence its name is absent from the current data.
India started external supplies of made-in-India vaccines on January 20, 2021. Supplies are being undertaken in three ways –
- Commercial sales
- GAVI’s COVAX facility
The vaccines supplied under ‘grant’ are the ones that will be provided for free. For instance, Myanmar, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Sri Lanka are some of the countries that have received free vaccines from the Indian government.
The Ministry of External Affairs gives details of the number of vaccines supplied to 71 countries so far. Out of these, 26 have entered into commercial sale agreements with vaccine manufacturers or under the COVAX initiative. The remaining 55 countries have received free vaccines from India and many among them have also received vaccines through commercial sales and the COVAX facility.
In terms of the number of does, a major portion of India-made vaccines has been supplied to other countries on a commercial basis. Out of the total 58,460,000 doses so far, 57.92% have been delivered as commercial agreements, 28.21% have been dispatched through the COVAX facility and 13.85% have been supplied under grants.
Media reports on the delivery of vaccines haven’t carefully explained the procedure of supply and the role of GAVI in procuring vaccines from India and distributing them to its member countries. Furthermore, social media claims that Pakistan has requested Indian vaccines are false since the country will receive the doses through COVAX.