India starts vaccine exports to Brazil, Morocco. South Africa is next in line

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AstraZeneca doses in the UK.
  • India is starting to export Covid-19 vaccines, with Brazil and Morocco getting the first shipments. 
  • South Africa and Saudi Arabia will be next to get supplies, the Indian foreign secretary says.
  • Government is still expecting the first million vaccines from India this month.
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India will start to export Covid-19 vaccines from Friday, 22 February, with the first shipments going to Brazil and Morocco, Reuters reports.

Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla told Reuters that South Africa and Saudi Arabia are next in line.

Recently, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize told Parliament that South Africa should receive one million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, produced by the Serum Institute of India, this month. Another 500,000 doses are due to follow in February.

Mkhize said healthcare workers should start to receive vaccines by next month. There are some 1.25 million health workers in the public and private sectors in South Africa.

Ministry of health spokesperson Popo Maja, confirmed to Netwerk24 that the first shipment of the vaccines from India is still expected before the end of the month. While he didn't want to comment on how the shipments will be transported, he said that air cargo would be easiest.

Maja added that government is still in negotiations about how many vaccine doses could be secured from India, Netwerk24 reported.

As of early January, government budget assumptions included that 70% of the total vaccination coverage required would be achieved by way of the AstraZeneca shot, the cheapest of the mainstream vaccines available.

South Africa has a target of vaccinating some 40 million people, which would require around 56 million doses of the two-dose AstraZeneca vaccine.

The Serum Institute is the biggest vaccine manufacturer in the world, and this week received the go-ahead for exports from the Indian government, which wanted to ensure that its own domestic immunisation programme was underway first, Reuters reported.

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