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India confident US will soon lift restrictions on vaccine materials: sources

For Rupam Jain and Neha Arora

NEW DELHI, Apr 19 (Reuters) – India hopes the United States will soon lift a ban on the export of vaccine raw materials that has threatened to curb production in the country, two Indian government sources told Reuters on Monday after a conversation. between the foreign ministers of both countries.

One of the officials said that the government of President Joe Biden had informed India that its request was being considered and that it would act on it “as soon as possible”.

India’s Foreign Ministry said it had nothing more to add than the tweet by Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, in which he said that he and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had discussed, among other things , “matters relating to our health cooperation”.

The US State Department confirmed that the two diplomats discussed COVID-19, but did not provide details.

Washington has invoked the wartime powers of the Defense Production Act to preserve vaccine raw materials for its own companies, but the Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest vaccine maker, has Having said that this goes against the global goal of equitable sharing of vaccines.

Asked about export restrictions, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said inequalities in access to vaccines were “completely unacceptable,” but declined to detail additional US measures to address them.

India is currently facing the world’s worst increase in coronavirus infections, prompting an outcry for vaccines. The country, which has the largest vaccine manufacturing capacity in the world, has also halted major vaccine exports to meet local demand.

The possible change on raw materials would come a few days after the SII chief executive directly tweeted Biden to end the supply restriction.

“The United States needs to lift the restrictions on APIs, without which there cannot be vaccines for everyone,” said one of the sources, referring to active pharmaceutical ingredients.

IBS is licensed to manufacture the AstraZeneca vaccine, as well as another developed by the American company Novavax.

(Additional reporting by Sanjeev Miglani, Euan Rocha and Simon Lewis; Edited in Spanish by Javier López de Lérida)

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