'Too early to give a response': India on Brazil's claim of getting 2 mn doses
New Delhi: India on Thursday appeared to contradict reported comments by Brazil’s Deputy Health Minister Elcio Franco who said that his country was sending an aircraft to pick up two million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca developed Covishield vaccine that has been manufactured by the Pune based Serum Institute of India.Indian foreign ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava told reporters at the weekly foreign office briefing that it was too early to give a specific response to queries on export to other countries given that India’s own inoculation process was due to begin on Saturday.“The vaccination process is just starting in India. It is too early to give a specific response on supplies to other countries as we are still assessing production schedules and delivery and we will take decisions in this regard in due course. This may take some time," Srivastava said.Brazil is one of many countries that have expressed interest in sourcing vaccines from India. Brazil’s foreign minister Ernesto Henrique Fraga Araújo spoke to Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar earlier this month on the matter, according to Indian officials.Prime Minister Narendra Modi while addressing the UN General Assembly session in September had said that India’s vaccine manufacturing capacity – one of the largest in the world -- would be put to the use of helping countries.Indian officials had also indicated earlier this week that the decision to begin exports of the Serum Institute manufactured Covishield vaccine was some way away with domestic requirements assessed and dealt with first. Earlier this month, Serum Institute’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin had received the go-ahead for vaccination from India’s drug authorities.The US, India and Brazil are the top three countries affected by the covid-19 pandemic that originated in China at the end of last year and spread across the world. Globally, the SARS-CoV2 virus that causes covid-19 has infected more than 92 million people and caused the deaths of almost two million people. In India the number of infections stand at more than 10.5 million while in the case of Brazil, the infections number over eight million. The number of deaths in India and Brazil stand at almost 152,000 and 206,000 respectively according to the US based Johns Hopkins University’s corona virus tracker.On Wednesday, Brazil’s Health Ministry said that the vaccination of the country’s population against covid-19 will begin with vaccines imported from China and India as soon as their emergency use has been approved by health regulator Anvisa, planned for Sunday.Vaccination of the country’s population will take 16 months at most, Deputy Health Minister Elcio Franco said at a news conference, according to a Reuters report. Brazil is sending a plane to import 2 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine made by India’s Serum Institute and has already imported 6 million doses of the CoronVac vaccine made by China’ Sinovac Biotech, the report had said.