India will begin exporting locally-made coronavirus vaccines within weeks of their launch, a foreign ministry official has confirmed.

The official dismissed reports that India would ban exports of vaccines it is producing to meet local demand.

India makes about 60% of vaccines globally and many countries are eagerly waiting for it to begin shipping doses.

It has formally approved the emergency use of two vaccines as it prepares to begin giving jabs in January.

India plans one of the world’s biggest inoculation, seeking to immunise about 300 million people by July.

The country’s drugs regulator has given the green light to two vaccines – one developed by AstraZeneca with Oxford University (Covishield) and one by local firm Bharat Biotech (Covaxin).

The foreign ministry official confirmed that India’s plan to help other countries was on track.

“Within a fortnight of the rollout of the vaccines we will allow exports to some of our South Asian neighbours. Some of these exports will be paid by us as gifts, and the others will be supplied at roughly the same price the government will be buying the vaccines at,” the foreign ministry official, who preferred to remain unnamed, told me.

“India is completely conscious of its commitments to neighbours and the rest of the world as the world’s biggest vaccine maker.”/Bbc

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