Serum Institute of India Chief Executive Officer Adar Poonawalla on Friday thanked the United States and the Indian government after the former announced that it will remove Defence Production Act restrictions on AstraZeneca, Novavax and Sanofi Covid-19 vaccines.

In a tweet, Poonawalla said that the change in policy will help increase the supply of raw materials to India as well as the world and boost the country’s vaccine production capacity.

The US had invoked the Defense Production Act in February. It gave the country’s administration the powers to control the distribution of products for a “short term”. The US wanted to boost vaccine production in the country.

With the imposition of the Act, the supply of raw materials required to manufacture vaccines was disrupted as the companies needed permission to export the items. On April 16, Poonawalla had urged the US government to lift the restrictions to help boost the production of vaccines in India.

On Thursday, the White House said that the US was confident of having enough vaccines for the country and announced that it would now remove the restrictions. “While the manufacturers will continue to make these three vaccines, this action will allow US-based companies that supply these vaccine manufacturers to make their own decisions on which orders to fulfill first,” White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said that the US was working to expand the production of vaccines and raw materials with its allies.

On the same day, the United States also announced that it planned to share 80 million, or 8 crore, Covid-19 vaccines doses with the world. Out of the total, President Joe Biden said that the US will share over 6 lakh vaccines with India, South Korea, Canada, Mexico and other countries.

Meanwhile, soon after Poonawalla’s tweet, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar tweeted: “Indian diplomacy is focussed on securing the vaccine supply chain.”

Jaishankar had visited the United States in May, saying that the endeavour was to expand the production of vaccines in India with the assistance from the US, reported PTI. He had said that the US, in terms of the supply chain for vaccines, was “absolutely indispensable”.

India has so far administered 22,35,40,732 Covid-19 vaccine doses, with 4,44,30,908 getting both the shots, according to government data.

On Friday, India reported 1,32,364 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, while deaths rose by 2,713. The country’s tally of infections now stands at 2,85,74,350 since the outbreak in January 2020, while the toll has reached 3,40,702.

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