LONDON, United Kingdom | ST, GALLEN, Switzerland – March 31, 2021 The St. Gallen Endowment and Airfinity today announced their partnership to jointly produce topical thought leadership on the fast-moving developments affecting the production, export, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
Today’s thought leadership piece “Halting India’s Vaccine Exports: The Fallout” is the initial document created through this unique partnership with more to be produced as and when topical developments arise in the area. Both organisations are fundamentally observation- and data-driven in the belief that better decisions are made when they are evidence-based.
“We are excited to work with the team at St. Gallen Endowment and believe this will help the world to better navigate the politically charged waters of vaccine trade. Vaccine availability is one of the most pressing global topics and combining Airfinity's market leading COVID-19 science and forecasting platform with St. Gallen Endowment's comprehensive medicine trade policy database allows us to jointly better assess impact of trade restrictions and other supply disruptions,” said Rasmus Bech Hansen, CEO and Co-Founder of Airfinity.
The world—in particular low- and middle-income countries—are counting on India for their COVID-19 vaccine supplies. The Serum Institute of India (SII) alone is committed to delivering 1.1 billion doses to approximately 100 countries. By 5 March 2021, according to an official spokesperson, a total of 47 countries had already received Indian-made vaccines.
Since the start of March there has been a surge in new COVID-19 infections in India and this has probably caused a rethink in New Delhi. From then on official records show a collapse in COVID-19 vaccine exports (see Figure 1). On 25 March 2021 GAVI announced delays in supplies from the SII. The delivery shortfall was estimated to be 40 million doses in March. Doubts were cast over further shipments of up to 50 million doses in April. On no less than four occasions have Indian officials linked statements about vaccine exports to prioritising domestic inoculation (details upon request). Like other nations curbing shipments, India has no formal export ban.
Halting India’s vaccine exports disrupts inoculation plans around the world. No one knows for sure how long vaccines shipments will be stopped, the Indian government has provided no guidance. Given exports have been halted once, what prevents them from being halted again?
This note reports how much longer it would take vaccination drives in Africa, Asia, and Latin America & the Caribbean to reach India’s current meagre inoculation rate of 4% should New Delhi halt vaccine exports permanently. For every developing nation due shipment(s) from India, the resulting reduction in vaccine available was fed into Airfinity’s simulator of vaccination rates over time and the number of additional days needed to meet a 4% inoculation rate recovered. Each delay is a setback in the global battle against COVID-19.
The headline findings for each continent are reported in Figure 2 below and are backed up by maps on the pages that follow. Such is the dependence of many developing countries in Asia on Indian-made COVID-19 vaccines that, on average, they would be delayed three months in reaching a 4% inoculation rate. Underlying this average is the fact that 18 nations’ vaccine roll-out would be halted entirely. Matters aren’t much better in Africa—where the average delay would exceed two months.
Figure 2: India blocking COVID-19 vaccine exports would put back by at least two months Asian and African nations reaching a vaccination rate of just 4%.
Widespread reliance on Indian COVID-19 vaccine would delay vaccination rates reaching 4% by at least two months in 40 African nations.
Asian nations divide into two camps—those entirely dependent on India for COVID-19 vaccines and those that are not.
Ending Indian vaccine exports essentially halts the inoculation campaigns in 18 Asian developing countries.
Note: Countries shaded grey are not due any COVID-19 vaccine shipments from India.
Such is the reliance on India supply that the inoculation campaigns of 10 nations would be delayed by more than two weeks.