The colorful Holi festival was small this year.

On Monday, far fewer people than usual celebrated the Indian Spring Festival, where you throw powder paint at each other and paint.

Several states had banned major events due to the sharp rise in the number of infections.

India is in the second wave of corona, and politics is drawing tough consequences: no more Covid-19 vaccines have been exported from India since last Thursday.

The local population should be prioritized.

India, also known as "The Pharmacy of the World" is the largest vaccine producer in the world.

60 percent of all global vaccines are produced there, many of them by the manufacturer Serum Institute of India (SII).

In an interview with WELT last year, company boss Adar Poonawalla said: "We are giving 50 percent to India, a country with 1.3 billion people, and 50 percent to countries with low and middle incomes, many of them in Africa."


Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and with the use of equity, the SII produces a corona vaccine with the British-Swedish company AstraZeneca.

It has been injected under the name Covishield in India since mid-January.

But India also exports the vaccine: According to the Indian Foreign Ministry, 60 million doses have been shipped abroad so far, more than the 55 million that have been administered in the country itself.

New corona wave - despite vaccinations

But that is about to change because the number of infections in the country is increasing.

When India started its vaccination campaign on January 16, the number of corona cases had previously dropped sharply.

Herd immunity has already been speculated with fewer than 15,000 new infections every day.

But that changed in March.

Source: WORLD infographic

Most recently, more than 72,000 new corona cases were recorded in one day, as official figures showed on Thursday, the strongest increase since October last year.

Most of these are in the richer state of Maharashtra, whose residents are now facing a new lockdown.

Since the pandemic began, India has recorded more than twelve million cases and over 160,000 deaths.

And not only are the infections rising rapidly, there are also reports of a new double mutation against which existing vaccines may be ineffective.


All of this is likely to have motivated the government to want to keep the vaccines produced in the country for the time being and no longer to issue export permits.

The export stop “is a temporary measure.

Domestic demand will have to come first, ”a government source told the BBC.

At the same time, the age limit for those eligible for vaccination in the country was lowered to 45 years from April 1, as more vaccine will be available.

Above all poorer countries affected by the export ban

The SII produces 60 to 70 million vaccine doses a month.

By May it should be 100 million.

One does not want to comment on the export stop, a spokesman for the SII told WELT.

It is clear, however, that the measure will primarily affect poorer countries.

The SII is tasked with delivering vaccine doses to the Covax program of the World Health Organization (WHO), which is supposed to give 92 low-income countries access to vaccines.

64 of them are supplied by the SII.

The company has announced plans to manufacture a billion AstraZeneca and Novavax vaccine doses for developing and emerging countries.


"So far, 28 million Covishield doses have been delivered to Covax, and we assumed that another 40 million doses would be available in March and up to 50 million doses in April," said a report by the vaccination alliance GAVI on the Indian export ban .

It is currently unclear whether these goals can be achieved.

The SII already informed the vaccination alliance that deliveries could be delayed in March and April.

The WHO therefore called on richer countries to donate ten million doses of vaccine to health workers in the world's 20 poorest countries.

Trend towards vaccination nationalism

The SII not only supplies Covax, but also individual countries with which bilateral deals exist.

They too now have to wait.

Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Morocco have already been informed that their deliveries will be delayed.

The UK has been waiting for delivery of over five million cans for five weeks.

Germany, on the other hand, can breathe a sigh of relief.

"Like the whole of the EU, Germany does not purchase AstraZeneca vaccine doses from India," said a spokesman for the Association of Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies.

They come from plants in Belgium, the USA, Great Britain and the Netherlands.

However: In Great Britain and the USA, just like in India, there is currently a trend towards so-called vaccination nationalism.

EU Council President Charles Michel criticized the USA and Great Britain for having imposed a “downright ban on the export of vaccines or vaccine components”.

According to a report in the New York Times, there are millions of AstraZeneca vaccine doses in stock in the US because the vaccine is not yet approved there.

And the EU no longer wants to simply deliver to countries that limit their own deliveries.

An export restriction has been in effect for a few days.

"Open roads should run in both directions," said EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

“AstraZeneca has so far delivered 5.8 million vaccine doses to Germany.

This corresponds to the communicated expectations of the German government ”, the British-Swedish company told WELT.

By the middle of the year, 100 million cans are to be delivered to the EU.

According to media reports, AstraZeneca originally targeted 220 million doses in that period.

Suddenly great vaccination skepticism in India


However, export bans do not automatically mean that vaccination is faster in the country.

Take India, for example, where the world's largest vaccination campaign is currently running.

300 million out of a total of 1.3 billion inhabitants are to receive an injection by August.

By the end of March, however, only 55 million doses had been inoculated.

This is also due to the low level of trust of the population.

In an international study from January, eight out of ten Indians said they wanted to be vaccinated.

Nowhere else in the world was the confidence in vaccination so great.

But only a short time later, doubts about the safety of the vaccination began to arise, especially among health workers.

Since the second dose of vaccines was injected in mid-February, 40 percent of those working in the health sector have not turned up for the appointment.

Currently, 40 million people have only received one dose of vaccine and eight million a second.

Only 0.6 percent of the population are sufficiently immunized.

300 million vaccinated Indians by summer

India has started its corona vaccination campaign.

Around 300 million people in this huge country are to be vaccinated free of charge by the summer.

A big challenge with an open end.

Source: WELT / Nicole Fuchs-Wiecha

Part of the responsibility is the rapid spread of disinformation in the country.

More than 400 million Indians use the Internet.

However, there is a lack of educational opportunities on digital skills and regulation of social media.

Misinformation and conspiracy theories spread rapidly during the pandemic.

For example, as in other countries, there was a rumor that the vaccination contained a microchip.

Islamic scholars advised Muslims against vaccination because it could contain pig gelatine.

However, neither of the two approved vaccines - Covishield and Covaxin - are so in India.

In some countries, only 22 percent of people who are eligible for the vaccination have been vaccinated to date.

So even if vaccines were not exported from India for months, there is no guarantee that the immunization of the population will accelerate.