India ready to send more COVID - 19 vaccines to Africa

India ready to send more COVID - 19 vaccines to Africa

A health official draws a dose of AstraZeneca's COVID 19 vaccine, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, at the Infectious Diseases Hospital in Colombo, Sri Lanka on January 29, 2021. REUTERS Dinuka Liyanawatte File Photo

NEW DELHI, Nov 30, Reuters -- India is ready to send more COVID 19 vaccine to Africa to fight the Omicron variant, New Delhi said late on Monday after China pledged 1 billion doses to the continent.

China and India have close ties with many African countries, but Beijing has pumped much more money into the region, and on Monday promised to invest another $10 billion. India has supplied more than 25 million doses of domestically made shots to 41 African countries, mostly through the global vaccine-distribution network COVAX.

The government of India is prepared to support the countries affected in Africa in dealing with the Omicron variant, including supplies of Made-in India vaccines, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Supplys can be made either through COVAX or bilaterally. The government cleared all orders placed by COVAX for supplies of the AstraZeneca AZN.L vaccine to countries such as Malawi, Ethiopia, Zambia, Mozambique, Guinea and Lesotho, and delivered doses of the home-grown Covaxin shot to Botswana. It did not say how many doses have been approved recently.

It said any new requirement projected either bilaterally or through COVAX will be considered expeditiously and will include the supply of life-saving drugs, test kits, gloves, PPE kits and medical equipment, such as ventilators.

India stopped exports of COVID - 19 vaccines for the first time since April, when it banned exports to inoculate its own citizens due to the surge in infections.

Domestic vaccine production has more than tripled since then, to about 300 million doses a month. At least one dose was given to 83% of its 944 million adults and two doses to 47%.