A tweet of Rajat Sharma, Editor-in-Chief and Chairman of India TV, has gone viral where he claimed that a consortium of 190 countries has ordered 2 billion doses of Covaxin. He tweeted, Those criticizing the Covoxin made in India should know that the Consortium of governments of 190 countries has booked 2 billion doses of this vaccine. People should not fall prey to misunderstandings, believe the facts".
India's indigenous vaccine, Covaxin, made by Bharat Biotech, has been granted permission for 'restricted' emergency use on January 3, 2021. Covaxin has been made by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune. The approval for the usage of Covaxin has raised many questions over its effectiveness as the vaccine is still undergoing phase-3 clinical trials. Scientists and activists are sceptical about the efficiency of Covaxin as they believe the vaccine has been approved in haste.
Screenshot of the Tweet by Rajat Sharma has gone viral on Facebook.
Twitter users are also tweeting the same claim.
A consortium of 190 countries has booked 2 billion doses of Covaxin.
The Logical Indian could not find any reports about a consortium of 190 nations who have pre-booked Covaxin.
However, we found instead of Covaxin, 190 nations have participated in a global initiative called COVAX. COVAX is an initiative by Gavi, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and World Health Organisation (WHO) to provide coronavirus vaccine access to all countries and people irrespective of their economic status. In a statement on December 18, 2020, COVAX announced that it had arrangements in place to access nearly two billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine candidates, on behalf of 190 participating countries. Both the numbers mentioned by Rajat Sharma resembles the figures provided for COVAX. Hence, the tweet by Rajat Sharma shows he must have got confused between COVAX and Covaxin.
Screenshot of the report on COVAX published on the WHO website
Today, on January 4, 2021, Rajat Sharma tweeted clarifying COVAXIN is an initiative by WHO, according to which a consortium of 190 nations has booked 2 billion doses. In his tweet, he said, "He wants to make one thing clear about Covaxin and COVAX. COVAX is the name of the WHO program, which is the consortium of 190 countries; GAVI has booked 2 billion vaccines along with Serum Institute and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, while Covaxin is India's vaccine, which has been approved by the government."
However, he didn't delete or apologised for his old tweets.
We also found out that Bharat Biotech is not a part of COVAX programme. But Serum Institute of India is a part of COVAX programme. The same WHO article that announces the arrangements for 2 billion doses of coronavirus vaccine, also quotes Adarsh Poonawalla, CEO of the Serum Institute of India (SII). Poonawalla said, "We are delighted to announce that we have signed for 100mn doses of Novavax and another 100mn dose of AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccines with COVAX, with an option of extending it by 900mn doses. The advance purchase commitments under COVAX initiative is encouraging as it will further bolster our fight and ensure equitable access at the most affordable price from Serum Institute of India."
One thing to note here is that the vaccine produced by SII, Covishield, is also not indigenous. AstraZeneca and Oxford University have developed it. AstraZeneca had signed an agreement with Serum Institute of India (SII) to produce 1 billion doses of its experimental vaccine for low- and middle-income countries. Later Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation granted a fund to COVAX to secure an additional 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses either from AstraZeneca or Novavax.
Hence, the statement made by Rajat Sharma that 190 billion countries have secured 2 billion doses of Covaxin is false.
Confusion over vaccine export:
On January 4, 2021, Media houses reported that Adarsh Poonawalla had said that India would not allow the export of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for several months. The report said that the Indian government has banned the export of vaccine and thus vaccine produced by SII will first be given to Indians. He also said that many poor countries would have to wait for some time for receiving the first shot of coronavirus vaccine.
However, later he refuted the claim. He tweeted, "I would like to clarify two matters; as there is confusion in the public domain, exports of vaccines are permitted to all countries and a joint public statement clearing up any recent miscommunication with regards to Bharat Biotech will be made.
He also tweeted the joint press release by Bharat Biotech and SII over the distribution of coronavirus vaccine.
Alt News has earlier fact-checked this claim.
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