A woman receives a dose of coronavirus vaccine at a health centre in New Delhi. File
The chief executive of Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest maker of vaccines and a critical supplier of the UN-backed COVAX facility, asked President Joe Biden on Twitter to lift the US embargo on exporting raw materials needed to make the the jabs.
Vaccine makers and experts in India have been concerned that the use of the Defence Production Act by the US to boost their own vaccine production was resulting in exports of critical raw materials being stopped. This was hobbling vaccine production in other parts of the world.
SII Chief Executive Adar Poonawalla appealed directly to Joe Biden to end the supply curb, which is aimed at supporting American vaccine companies.
"Respected @POTUS, if we are to truly unite in beating this virus, on behalf of the vaccine industry outside the US, I humbly request you to lift the embargo of raw-material exports out of the US, so that vaccine production can ramp up," Poonawalla said on Twitter.
Poonawalla had said the unavailability of the raw materials, such as the specific medium needed to grow microorganisms, would prevent Serum Institute from scaling up the production of the vaccine developed by Novavax.
The company had been planning to make up to 40 million shots of the vaccine monthly.
India battled a surge in cases as hospitals ran out of oxygen and beds, while politicians held election rallies and hundreds of thousands of Hindu devotees attended a weeks-long festival, infuriating health officials.
A massive second wave of infections, second only to the United States in total, forced authorities to restrict movement of people in Mumbai, New Delhi and other cities amid growing calls for faster vaccination rollouts.
The 217,353 new cases reported by the health ministry on Friday marked the eighth record daily increase in the last nine days and took the total number of cases to nearly 14.3 million.
Member states are struggling to contain a third wave of the epidemic and kick-start vaccine programmes slowed by a shortfall in deliveries, and Britain has warned the bloc against resorting "vaccine nationalism."
Following an EU summit, French President Emmanuel Macron said there was a "new type of world war," adding: "We are looking in particular at Russian and Chinese attacks and attempts to gain influence through the vaccine."
European Medicines Agency director Emer Cooke said the watchdog could not definitively rule out a link between blood clot incidents and the vaccine in its investigation into 30 cases of a rare blood clotting condition.
The announcement comes as the Ministry of Health and Prevention on Sunday expanded coronavirus vaccine eligibility in line with the UAE's proactive policy to ensure the health and safety of all community members.
The shooting happened in Azariyah, a village just outside of Jerusalem, and marked the latest violence in what has become the deadliest year in the West Bank since 2015.
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Alain Robert, the free climber dubbed the "French spiderman", scaled one of Barcelona's highest skyscrapers on Saturday without a harness. And for the first time ever, the famous daredevil was joined by his son.