India freezes exports of AstraZeneca vaccine

India has placed a temporary hold on all major exports of the AstraZeneca coronavirus shot made by the Serum Institute of India (SII). It had to take this drastic measure as a way to meet domestic demand as its coronavirus cases continue to rise.

Reuters report that no export of the vaccine has left India since Thursday.

“Everything else has taken a backseat, for the time being at least,” a source for the outlet said.

“No exports, nothing till the time the India situation stabilises. The government won’t take such a big chance at the moment when so many need to be vaccinated in India.”

The SII is the world’s biggest vaccine-maker, and India has shipped over 60.5 million doses. 17.7 million of those doses have gone towards the COVAX programme which allows for some 180 countries to get doses.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to widen its inoculation drive by including everyone above 45 from April.

With 11.7 million cases, India has reported the highest number of coronavirus infections after the United States and Brazil.