Gavi and India's Bharat Biotech discuss possible COVAX use of Covaxin

School girls receive a dose of Bharat Biotech's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine, Covaxin, during a vaccination drive for children aged 15-18 in Ahmedabad, India, January 4, 2022. REUTERS/Amit Dave

NEW DELHI, Jan 6 (Reuters) - The Gavi vaccine alliance is in talks with India's Bharat Biotech over potential procurement of the company's Covaxin COVID-19 shot for the COVAX global vaccine distribution programme, a Gavi spokesperson told Reuters on Thursday.

"We are in discussion with (Bharat Biotech) as we consider the overall needs of the COVAX portfolio in 2022. However, we have no agreement for supply of Covaxin to COVAX at this time," the spokesperson said in an email.

The World Health Organization in November gave Covaxin, India's first homegrown COVID-19 vaccine, approval for emergency use. Three of the 10 vaccines the global agency has approved are mass-produced in India.

About 180 million Covaxin doses have been administered in India and more than 3 million doses have been exported or donated.

Gavi said it was also working with the Serum Institute of India (SII) for the world's biggest vaccine maker to start supplying the Novavax (NVAX.O) vaccine to COVAX. Gavi has a firm order commitment for 300 million doses of the shot, with options for an additional 700 million doses.

The SII has stockpiled tens of millions of doses of the Novavx shot, which it calls Covovax, and has shipped more than 9 million doses of the drug to Indonesia in bilateral deals.

The SII is also a big supplier of the AstraZeneca (AZN.L) vaccine to India and COVAX.

India, which resumed vaccine exports in October after stopping shipments in April to inoculate its own citizens, has so far donated or sold more than 1 billion doses in total.

The world's biggest vaccine-making country has capacity to produce about 5 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses a year.

(This story was refiled to correct typographical error in headline)

Reporting by Krishna N. Das Editing by Jason Neely and David Goodman

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