WHO suspends Bharat Biotech's Covaxin supply to UN agencies

A healthcare worker fills a syringe with a dose of the Covaxin coronavirus disease vaccine manufactured by Bharat Biotech. File Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi

The World Health Organization said on Saturday it has suspended supply through United Nations agencies of COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin, produced by India's Bharat Biotech, to allow the manufacturer to upgrade facilities and address deficiencies found in an inspection.

The WHO asked countries that have received the vaccine to take appropriate actions, according to the statement, but did not specify what the appropriate actions would be.

The WHO said the vaccine is effective and no safety concerns exist, but the suspension of production for export will result in the interruption of Covaxin supply. It said the suspension is in response to the outcomes of WHO post emergency use listing (EUL) inspection conducted from March 14 to 22, and the vaccine maker has indicated its commitment to suspend production of Covaxin for export.

Bharat Biotech did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent outside business hours.

On Friday, the vaccine manufacturer said it was slowing production of Covaxin, as demand was dropping along with a fall in infections and wider immunisation coverage in the country.

The WHO said that the company has "committed to comply by addressing the GMP deficiencies and is developing a corrective and preventive action plan, for submission to the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI)and WHO".

Bharat Biotech on April 1 announced the temporary slowing down of production of its covid-19 vaccine Covaxin across its manufacturing facilities, having completed its supply obligations to procurement agencies and foreseeing the decrease in demand.

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