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India will send AstraZeneca vaccine to Canada in ‘less than a month’

The world’s biggest vaccine manufacturer said Monday it would deliver COVID-19 shots from India to Canada “in less than a month”, days after a phone call between the two nations’ leaders following a diplomatic row over protests by farmers.

India — known as the world’s pharmacy — has stepped up worldwide shipments of the jabs manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, which has emerged as a major player in the fight against coronavirus, as a form of “vaccine diplomacy”.

The Serum Institute’s chief executive Adar Poonawalla said his company was awaiting regulatory approval from Canada.

“I assure you, @SerumInstIndia will fly out #COVISHIELD to Canada in less than a month; I’m on it!,” Poonawalla tweeted.

Covishield is the name the Serum Institute uses for the vaccine developed by the British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca with Oxford University, which it mass-produces in India.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday tweeted that his country “would do its best to facilitate supplies of COVID vaccines sought by Canada”, following a phone conversation between him and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The number of doses to be shipped to Canada has not been disclosed, although the Hindustan Times reported Sunday that there could be an initial shipment of 500,000 shots to the nation of 38 million people.

Trudeau’s government has faced growing criticism in recent weeks after its immunization effort hit a bump, with no domestic production capabilities and deliveries of the first authorized Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna doses sourced from Europe delayed while the number of COVID-19 cases spiked.

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