India will need to place order of 1 billion doses to vaccinate 60% population: IMF

Countries with insufficient coverage should immediately place purchase orders for vaccines, said International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Friday.

IMF said, "Countries or regions that are relying on domestic vaccine manufacturing capacity or on executing option contracts in the future should consider immediately placing orders to achieve sufficient vaccine coverage."

Pointing out COVID-19 vaccination in India, IMF said, "For India, current bilateral purchases plus coverage from COVAX will cover about 25 percent of its population by the first half of 2022. To get to 60 percent coverage, India will need to immediately place sufficient vaccine orders of about 1 billion doses through contracts that incentivize investment in additional capacity and augmentation of the supply chain."

"In this context, the authorities' recently announced financing of about $600 million to the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech to boost production capacity in the near term is a welcome step. Authorities estimate that 2 billion doses will be available by the end of 2021. Efforts should be made to ensure that the projected production capacity will materialize without delay, including through securing the supply chain for raw materials—supported by international efforts to eliminate export restrictions on all critical inputs," said a release by IMF.

IMF asked nations to ensure free cross-border flow of raw materials and finished vaccines. It said, "An urgent focus should be to eliminate constraints on cross-border exports of critical raw materials and finished vaccines. Free cross-border flow of vaccine inputs and supplies is essential for the world to achieve its vaccination targets without delay."

Speaking of the export of raw materials to the Indian COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers, IMF said, "Governments are taking steps to relax such constraints on raw materials (for example, the recent pledge by the US to facilitate greater access of critical raw material to Indian manufacturers after severe shortages emerged). However, there is scope for greater multilateral action on this front, as significant constraints still remain. Greater access to critical raw materials—combined with a commitment by Indian authorities to maintain no restrictions on exports once near-term shortages ease—will also enable the Serum Institute of India (currently the chief supplier to COVAX) to meet its export commitments, which is important for the path to global vaccination."

IMF also urged countries with a surplus of COVID-19 vaccine to donate to those facing shortages.

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