India has placed a temporary hold on all exports of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.
The Foreign Ministry sources said rising cases meant domestic demand was expected to pick up in the coming weeks, and so the doses were needed for India’s own rollout.
The move – described as a “temporary squeeze” by officials – is expected to affect supplies until the end of April.
The move will affect supplies to the Gavi/WHO-backed Covax vaccine-sharing facility through which more than 180 countries are expected to get doses.
India’s largest vaccine manufacturer, the Serum Institute of India (SII), has delayed shipments of the AstraZeneca jab to several countries in recent days, including the UK and Brazil.
India has exported more than 60 million vaccine doses to 76 countries so far, with the majority of these being the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab.
The decision comes as India faces a surge in coronavirus cases. On Wednesday it recorded its sharpest daily rise this year, with more than 47,000 new cases and 275 deaths.
It is opening up vaccinations for those over the age of 45 from 1 April, and officials expect demand for vaccinations to increase.
In recent days, India has been moving to step up its so far sluggish coronavirus vaccine programme. This week SII told Brazil, Morocco and Saudi Arabia that further supplies of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine would be delayed.