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Explained: Why India needs Covid-19 vaccine ingredients from the US

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  1. skybrian
    From the article:

    From the article:

    Early on in the Covid-19 pandemic, then President Donald Trump had invoked the [US Defense Production Act] for purposes like increasing production of ventilators and limiting exports of medical supplies. After taking office this year, Biden invoked the powers of the Act on January 21 to ensure the availability of "critical" materials, treatments and supplies needed to combat the pandemic, including the resources necessary to “effectively” produce and distribute vaccines "at scale". A White House briefing over a week later revealed that his administration intended to use provisions of this Act to ensure supplies of products crucial to making and administering the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccines. Last month, Biden once again announced that the Act was being invoked to ensure 24×7 manufacturing of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The government would also continue to use the Act to expedite "critical materials" in vaccine production, such as equipment, machinery and supplies.

    This decision to ensure that companies on American soil divert their resources to meet the demands of the US population effectively blocks them from meeting export commitments. Mahima Datla, the managing director of Biological E, which is making the J&J vaccine in India as well as a protein subunit vaccine with Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine, had said US suppliers have told global clients that they may not be able to fulfil their orders because of the Act, as per a report in the Financial Times.

    What are the raw materials blocked, and why are they important?

    There is no comprehensive list of companies that have been called in to focus on vaccine production in the US, nor is there a list of all the raw materials that cannot be exported from the country as a result of invoking the Act. A typical vaccine manufacturing plant will use around 9,000 different materials, according to a report by the World Trade Organization. These materials are sourced from some 300 suppliers across some 30 countries. However, based on previous statements from the Biden Administration as well as vaccine company executives like Poonawalla, Dr Krishna Ella and Datla, the raw materials impacted will include those listed in the table alongside.

    Which vaccines may be impacted as a result?

    The US restrictions are expected to hit the output of major suppliers for the world. The continued restrictions may not only cause a fight for limited resources, but also delay regulatory clearances of some products, according to experts. Plastic bags, filters and cell culture media, especially, are relevant to most vaccines being made to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic. This includes vaccines like Covishield [from AstraZeneca] and Covovax [from Novavax], of which SII was expected to supply over a billion doses each this year.

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