The government of Pakistan has blamed India for delaying the delivery of the first batch of Oxford’s AstraZeneca vaccine through the COVAX program. Pakistan is yet to receive 14 million doses of Oxford’s vaccine that were originally scheduled to be delivered by 2 March.
The vaccine is being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India — the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer — which will deliver it to 92 lower and middle-income countries including Pakistan, under the COVAX program which is the World Health Organization’s vaccination plan for developing countries.
Dr. Nausheen Hamid, the Parliamentary Secretary for Health, said that the delivery of the vaccine had been delayed by India due to technical issues.
The vaccine delivery to Pakistan has got late due to a delay in issuance of an export exemption certificate. It [the vaccine] has to come from India so they have delayed the release of the [export exemption] certificate.
When asked whether she thinks the Indian authorities deliberately delayed the grant of the export exemption certificate, Nausheen said, “I don’t know if it is intentionally delayed. But I do know the delay is caused by their [India’s] end”.
Since COVAX kicked off its campaign on 24 February, over 17.8 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been delivered to a number of countries including the Philippines, Sudan, Rwanda, Kenya, Gambia, Cambodia, Angola, Nigeria, and Ghana.
COVAX plans to deliver at least two billion coronavirus vaccine doses by 2021 to cover at least 21 percent of the vulnerable people in 91 developing and poor nations. Of these countries, Pakistan is scheduled to receive 45 million dozes in two or three installments. The country is expecting 14 million shots in the first phase.