Indian vaccine maker asks US to ease export curbs

Indian vaccine maker asks US to ease export curbs
Employees operate a filling machine inside a laboratory at the Serum Institute of India, in Pune, India, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. (AP)
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Updated 17 April 2021

Indian vaccine maker asks US to ease export curbs

Indian vaccine maker asks US to ease export curbs
  • Serum Institute of India paused exports to COVAX after a devastating surge of infections in India resulted in increased domestic demand

NEW DELHI: The chief executive of Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest maker of vaccines and a critical supplier of the UN-backed COVAX facility, asked President Joe Biden on Twitter to lift the US embargo on exporting raw materials needed to make the the jabs.
Vaccine makers and experts in India have been concerned that the use of the Defense Production Act by the US to boost their own vaccine production was resulting in exports of critical raw materials being stopped. This was hobbling vaccine production in other parts of the world.
Stéphane Bancel, CEO for Moderna, said Tuesday in an online event that export embargoes were also preventing American vaccine makers from exporting shots globally and resulting in shortages.
“If we are to truly unite in beating this virus, on behalf of the vaccine industry outside the US, I humbly request you to lift the embargo of raw material exports out of the US so that vaccine production can ramp up,” wrote Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Serum Institute of India.
He had earlier said that pivoting away from suppliers in the US could result in a delay of up to six months for the production of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Novavax. Serum Institute and Novavax have inked a deal to supply 1.1 billion doses of the vaccine to COVAX to equitably distribute it across the globe.

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200,000 new infections were detected recently in India.

Serum Institute of India paused exports to COVAX after a devastating surge of infections in India resulted in increased domestic demand.
Over 200,000 new infections were detected recently and major cities, like Mumbai and New Delhi, are under virus restrictions. Hospitals are overwhelmed and authorities are scrambling to try and vaccinate enough people to slow down the spread. But in doing so, India relies heavily on AstraZeneca shots made by Serum Institute of India.
Poonawalla had said the unavailability of the raw materials, such as the specific medium needed to grow microorganisms, would prevent Serum Institute from scaling up the production of the vaccine developed by Novavax.
The company had been planning to make up to 40 million shots of the vaccine monthly.
Ramping up the production of this shot could also help India. Novavax has applied for emergency use of the vaccine to regulators in Europe, the US and the World Health Organization. If approved, India would be able to use the shot under new regulations that make it easier to greenlight vaccines that have received the nod by the UK, the US, Europe, Japan or WHO.


Saudi tourism chief eyes Q4 turning point as international flights resume

Saudi tourism chief eyes Q4 turning point as international flights resume
Updated 17 May 2021

Saudi tourism chief eyes Q4 turning point as international flights resume

Saudi tourism chief eyes Q4 turning point as international flights resume
  • Saudi Arabia is targeting 100 million annual visits by 2030

DUBAI: The fourth quarter of this year could be a turning point for Saudi Arabia’s tourism industry as the countries that the Kingdom is targeting reach a 70 percent vaccination rate.
Saudi Tourism Authority CEO Fahd Hamidaddin made the prediction at the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai as the Kingdom also reopened its borders on Monday.
Although foreign tourists are still not allowed to travel to the Kingdom, Hamidaddin said earlier on Monday that it was preparing to reopen its borders for inbound travel soon.
Saudi Arabia has opened international tourism offices in major countries including China and Russia and is targeting 28 markets in a global marketing push.
Hamidaddin said international tourism in the country could only boom when other countries also restarted their travel industries — and that this could only be fully considered after they had reached a vaccination rate of 70 percent.
He said that such a vaccination milestone may be reached in the last quarter of the year.
Saudi Arabia opened up the Kingdom to international tourism in September 2019, and has since announced a number of mega projects to attract visitors, including a $530 million fund to develop key destinations across the Kingdom.
Market research firm Euromonitor International estimated in March that inbound tourism spending in Saudi Arabia would reach $25.3 billion by 2025, recovering from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Saudi domestic tourism exceeded expectations during the pandemic, despite the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) describing 2020 as “the worst year on record” in the history of tourism.
Saudi Arabia is targeting 100 million annual visits by 2030, up from about 40 million a year before the pandemic.
It wants tourism to account for 10 percent of GDP, up from 3 percent, by 2030.

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Abu Dhabi’s ADNOC said to be in early talks with investors ahead of drilling unit IPO

Abu Dhabi’s ADNOC said to be in early talks with investors ahead of drilling unit IPO
Updated 17 May 2021

Abu Dhabi’s ADNOC said to be in early talks with investors ahead of drilling unit IPO

Abu Dhabi’s ADNOC said to be in early talks with investors ahead of drilling unit IPO
  • ADNOC Drilling owns and operates a large fleet of rigs
  • ADNOC is also planning to float Fertiglobe unit

DUBAI: Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) has started virtual meetings with potential investors ahead of the planned initial public offering of its drilling unit, two sources told Reuters.
Banks working on ADNOC Drilling are scheduling calls with local, regional and international institutional investors to sound out appetite for the potential sale, said the sources, declining to be named as the matter is not public.
The meetings are described as an early look engagement, one of the sources said, where the company that is set for a public share sale is introduced and feedback is sourced from investors.
ADNOC, which supplies nearly 3 percent of global oil demand, declined to comment when contacted by Reuters on Monday.
It is planning to take the unit public in the third quarter, one of the sources said previously. The company could raise at least $1 billion from the share sale, the source said.
ADNOC Drilling owns and operates a large fleet of rigs, including 75 onshore rigs, 20 offshore jackup rigs, and 11 well water rigs, according to its website.
The drilling business is critical for ADNOC’s upstream operations, helping the oil company reach its production targets.
ADNOC has invited a handful of international and local banks to take part in the process of the public share sale of ADNOC Drilling, which is due later this month.
ADNOC Chief Executive Sultan Al-Jaber has been the main architect of the transformation strategy the company embarked on more than four years ago, building an investment team to monetise assets and raise funds from international private equity groups.
The group is also planning to float Fertiglobe, a fertilizer joint venture with Dutch-listed chemical producer OCI later this year.


Dubai allows full hotel capacity and concerts, sports events

Dubai allows full hotel capacity and concerts, sports events
Updated 17 May 2021

Dubai allows full hotel capacity and concerts, sports events

Dubai allows full hotel capacity and concerts, sports events
  • The emirate will also allow live entertainment and activities

DUBAI: Dubai’s Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management on Monday has updated precautionary measures for events and activities.
The revised protocols allow entertainment facilities and venues to have an increased capacity of 70 percent, while hotels can raise their occupancy ceiling to 100 percent.
The emirate will also allow live entertainment and activities in restaurants, cafes and shopping malls for a trial period of one month.
It noted that the latest precautionary measures must be observed, and performers and entertainers should be vaccinated against COVID-19. These updates are effective immediately.
The committee stressed that it remains mandatory for people attending events and activities to put on their face masks and apply physical distancing of two meters.

Dubai has pushed to keep its economy, which relies on international trade and business, open through the pandemic after an initial lockdown.

The emirate is due to host the Expo 2020 world fair from October, hoping to attract millions of overseas visitors.

The UAE has in recent weeks banned entry from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka to guard against the spread of the highly contagious Indian variant.

– with Reuters


Seera and Klook sign deal to promote Saudi tourism

Seera and Klook sign deal to promote Saudi tourism
Updated 17 May 2021

Seera and Klook sign deal to promote Saudi tourism

Seera and Klook sign deal to promote Saudi tourism
  • The platform will feature tours and activities operated by Discover Saudi, Seera’s destination management company

DUBAI: Regional travel services company Seera Group has partnered with Klook to help international tour operators promote tourism in the Kingdom.
Under the deal, the pair will create a one-stop digital platform with relevant travel content and inventory management solutions for tourism providers in the Kingdom.
These providers will be able to connect with global marketplaces and international tour distributors to promote Saudi tourism.
The platform will feature tours and activities operated by Discover Saudi, Seera’s destination management company.
“For our partners across the Saudi tourism ecosystem, finding smart ways to connect with travelers enhances their ability to offer unique Arabian experiences to everyone eager to explore the destination,” Fahd Hamidaddin, chief executive of the Saudi Tourism Authority, said in a statement.
The deal, announced at the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, combines Seera’s local knowledge of the tourism sector and Klook’s technological capacity.
It comes as the Kingdom plans to increase inbound tourism in line with its ambitious Vision 2030.


Honeywell deploys tech to combat use of fake COVID-19 respirators in UAE

Honeywell deploys tech to combat use of fake COVID-19 respirators in UAE
Updated 17 May 2021

Honeywell deploys tech to combat use of fake COVID-19 respirators in UAE

Honeywell deploys tech to combat use of fake COVID-19 respirators in UAE
  • Nearly 20 factories selling substandard face masks, disinfectants and hand sanitizers have been uncovered in the UAE

DUBAI: Honeywell said it using digital authentication technology in a bid to tackle the use of fake respirators and masks in the UAE and wider region.
It said that surging demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) has triggered an increase in counterfeiting across the region.
Nearly 20 factories selling substandard face masks, disinfectants and hand sanitizers have been uncovered in the UAE since the outbreak of the virus, it said.
“In response to the growing number of counterfeit PPE products in the Middle East and Africa, we’ve chosen the UAE to be the testing ground for digital authentication technology for our PPE distributed across the region,” said Greg Norton, general manager, fine chemicals and authentication technologies. “This software will not only confirm the authentication of our N95 respirators made in the UAE, it will also help detect counterfeit PPE products to help authorities reduce illicit trade during the pandemic.”
To authenticate the product, the end user scans a digital code embedded in the packaging with their smartphone camera after downloading the Honeywell application for iOS or Android. The software validates the product’s authenticity through a database, letting the end user know it is safe to use and gathers market intelligence data.
Honeywell-branded N95 respirators are produced in the UAE by Strata Manufacturing.