India’s Bharat Biotech resumes exports of COVID-19 vaccines amidst Omicron emergence

Indian vaccine maker Bharat Biotech said on Monday it has resumed export of its COVID-19 shot, Covaxin, and has executed long-pending orders in November. Covaxin, India's first indigenous vaccine for Covid-19, has been found to be 77.8 percent effective against the deadly coronavirus, a report published in The Lancet recently said.

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The Modi government on Tuesday, 24 November, had approved the commercial export of Bharat Biotech’s Covid-19 vaccine.

Bharat Biotech is set to export 108 lakhs of Covaxin doses commercially amid the increasing new coronavirus variant, Omicron, scare.

Covaxin, India’s first indigenous vaccine for Covid-19, has been found to be 77.8 per cent effective against the deadly coronavirus, a report published in The Lancet recently said.

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Which countries will have access to Covaxin?

The Centre will decide the number of vaccines to be exported commercially keeping in mind the domestic availability of vaccines every month.

Covaxin is set to be exported to eight countries — Botswana, Paraguay, Vietnam, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Cameroon and the UAE. Botswana in southern Africa is among 13 countries where the Omicron variant of the virus causing Covid-19 has been found.

The recent scare of the Omicron variant, which WHO has categorized as ‘variant of concern’, highlighted the vaccine inequality in the world. The new coronavirus variant is potentially more dangerous than the Delta variant.

Covaxin, the inactivated whole-virion vaccine, was approved for emergency use in India on January 3 and was granted an Emergency Use Listing (EUL) by the World Health Organization (WHO) on November 3, 2021.

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What is an Omicron variant?

On 26 November 2021, WHO designated the variant B.1.1.529 a variant of concern, named Omicron, on the advice of WHO’s Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution (TAG-VE). This decision was based on the evidence presented to the TAG-VE that Omicron has several mutations that may have an impact on how it behaves, for example, on how easily it spreads or the severity of illness it causes. Here is a summary of what is currently known.

Researchers in South Africa and around the world are conducting studies to better understand many aspects of Omicron and will continue to share the findings of these studies as they become available.

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It is not yet clear whether Omicron is more transmissible (e.g, more easily spread from person to person) compared to other variants, including Delta. The number of people testing positive has risen in areas of South Africa affected by this variant, but epidemiologic studies are underway to understand if it is because of Omicron or other factors.


Reuters with additional input by GVS 

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