India expects to secure the biggest chunk of the 60 million AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine doses that the United States will share globally, two Indian government sources told Reuters, as New Delhi battles a devastating surge in infections.
Yesterday the White House said 10 million doses could be cleared for export “in coming weeks” and the rest by June. It has not revealed potential beneficiaries, but the sources told Reuters that India could gain the most.
“The wheels of diplomacy and appeals from WHO and top public health experts changed their thinking and now we have the US ready to send vaccines,” said one of the sources, an aide to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Biden administration had agreed to ship doses to India after initial reluctance, he added. “We are not sure how many we will receive. All I can say here is, our bowl is the largest and deepest.”
Speaking to Reuters after a telephone conversation between Modi and President Joe Biden on vaccine raw materials, the second official said India was lobbying hard to get more than 35 per cent of the AstraZeneca doses.
“Our prime minister has been assured that India will be given priority; the ratio of Indian share is being worked out,” said the official, who is involved in the negotiations with the U.S. authorities.
“We are also assuring them that once Covid cases decline, we will manufacture and distribute vaccines to other nations,” the source added.