India bans remdesivir exports as Covid-19 cases surge
13 April 2021
India has banned the export of antiviral drug remdesivir and its active pharmaceutical ingredients amidst a spike in demand with a record second surge in Covid-19 infections and shortages of the medicine in the country.
With new daily infections well above the 1.5 lakh for more than a week, overwhelming hospitals in some regions, India, known as the pharmacy of the world, has already stalled major exports of coronavirus vaccines s well.
Besides the ban on exports of remdesivir “till the situation improves”, the health ministry has asked manufacturers to step up supplies o meet the rising demand.
Seven Indian companies are producing the drug under licence from Gilead Sciences, with an installed capacity of about 3.9 million units per month, for local use and exports to more than 100 countries.
Remdesivir is widely used in hospitals across the country despite the World Health Organisation conditional recommendation that there was no evidence that the drug improved survival and other outcomes in Covid-19 patients.
Besides India, several other countries are also continue to use the drug for the treatment of Covid-19 patients.
As infections soared, deaths have also surged, with the health ministry reporting 879 on Monday – the highest in more than five months – taking the total to 1,71,085.
India’s tally of more than 13.36 million cases is the second-highest globally, behind only the United States.
The centre has organised a “Tika Utsav”, or vaccine festival, across the country to inoculate the maximum number of eligible people against the virus.
The mass vaccination programme is to be conducted until 14 April, following an appeal by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to chief ministers of states at a meeting on the medical crisis.
More than 100 million doses have already been administered to front-line workers and people above 45 in India’s vaccination drive, which began early this year.
However, several states have claimed they are facing vaccine shortages despite assurances from the government.