The Ministry of Health has issued a clarification that the commerce ministry’s decision to restrict the export of syringes with or without needles will cover just three categories, and that too for a period of three months.

The ministry said only syringes that are vital to sustain the momentum of the Covid-19 vaccination programme will come under the purview of the ‘quantitative restriction’. The three denominations are 0.5 ml/ 1ml AD (auto – disable) syringes, 0.5 ml/1 ml/2 ml/3 ml disposable syringes and 1 ml/2 ml/3 ml RUP (re-use prevention) syringes. The decision to put in place a quantitative restriction on export of syringes to boost their domestic availability and uptake was taken as part of the commitment to vaccinate India’s last citizen, fulfilling the philosophy of ‘Antyodaya’ espoused by Pt. Deendayal Upadhyay’, the ministry added.

India has so far administered nearly 94-crore vaccine doses and is nearing 100-crore doses administration mark.

Syringes of denominations and types other than the three specifically mentioned ones are not covered under quantitative restriction, the ministry said.

The clarification has come as a major relief to domestic syringe and needle manufacturers who export over 1 billion units of syringes every year.

The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), had on October 4, amended the export policy on syringes with or without needle to bring it under the ‘restricted’ category that requires special export approvals. The DGFT notification had said the details will be announced separately. The announcement saw syringe makers alleging that the government had to resort to export restrictions because of inadequate planning, despite several reminders from the industry to ensure sufficient stockpile of syringes as the pace of vaccination was expected to increase gradually.

Post Covid-19, syringe and needle manufacturers had cumulatively offered an uncommitted spare capacity to produce over 350-million syringes every month to help the government’s Covid-19 vaccination programme. With the volume of daily vaccinations going up substantially, the Centre felt the need for more supplies, and hence the restriction.

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