India jab exports back, Burundi locks down

India, the world's largest vaccine producer, is due to resume exports of surplus COVID-19 vaccines.
Camera IconIndia, the world's largest vaccine producer, is due to resume exports of surplus COVID-19 vaccines. Credit: AP

Indian authorities say the country will resume exports and donations of surplus vaccines against COVID-19 as of next month while the Burundi government announced new lockdown measures.

Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Monday that India's vaccination production had increased and that excess vaccines would be used to fulfil India's "commitment" to helping the world fight COVID-19.

Vaccinating Indians will, however, remain the government's "topmost priority," he said.

India, the world's biggest vaccine-maker, donated or sold 66 million doses to 100 countries before exports were halted.

Mandaviya said India's monthly vaccine production had doubled since April and was expected to increase to more than 300 million doses in October.

With new vaccines from companies such as Biological E likely to be approved, production could cross one billion in the next three months, reports said.

India stopped exporting shots in order to focus on inoculating its own population as infections surged across the country, overwhelming health care systems.

The move left many developing countries that were reliant on Indian exports without supplies.

The renewed export drive will prioritise the global vaccine-sharing platform COVAX and neighbouring countries, Mandaviya said.

India aims to vaccinate all of its 944 million adults by December.

So far, 64.8 per cent have received one dose and 22.2 per cent are fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, authorities in Burundi have decided to suspend all social events except on Saturdays and Sundays as concerns grow about a rising number of COVID-19 infections.

The country was one of the last in Africa to embrace vaccines after the administration of the late president was accused of taking the pandemic lightly.

In a letter to governors and mayors, the chair of the committee in charge of fighting COVID-19 said the limits on gatherings come after authorities realised how such events can spread the virus.

The mayor of Burundi's economic capital Bujumbura is threatening to fine anyone who does not wear a mask or respect distancing.

The mayor cites a worrying number of COVID-19 patients in the city.

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