Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's $15-million pledge to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, at the UK-led Global Vaccine Summit cements the India-UK healthcare partnership.
As the world's fourth-largest producer of vaccines, India has a critical role to play in the global healthcare mission to immunise against infectious diseases - not least the novel coronavirus that brought the world to a near-standstill.
While a vaccine against Covid-19 remains in various stages of trial, the UK organised a virtual Global Vaccine Summit to keep the issue of equitable distribution of critical lifesaving vaccines at the forefront of the global agenda. Over 50 countries and organisations supported the initiative, aimed at raising $7.4 million to immunise a further 300 million children in the world's poorest countries by 2025.
The Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, was among nearly 35 world leaders, including US President Donald Trump, to zoom into the virtual conference to pledge $15 million to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance - a United Nations back organisation which coordinates vaccinations across the world. He said: “Our support to Gavi is not only financial. India's huge demand brings down the global price of vaccines. “In today's challenging context, I want to reiterate that India stands in solidarity with the world. Our proven capacity to produce quality medicines and vaccines at low cost, our own domestic experience in rapidly expanding immunisation and our considerable scientific research talent are all at the service of humanity.” Modi highlighted the Indian government's focus on Mission Indradhanush (rainbow), which is targeted at the full vaccination of children and pregnant women in India, as a sign of the importance attached to immunisation within the country. India contributes to the immunisation of about 60 per cent of the world's children and the Indian PM stressed that the world can continue to count on it in the critical mission of vaccination against infectious diseases “India recognises and values the work of Gavi, which is why we became a donor to Gavi while still being eligible for Gavi's support. Gavi is not just a global alliance, it is also a symbol of global solidarity and a reminder that by helping others, we can also help ourselves,” he said.
The UK describes India as an important healthcare partner, with bilateral cooperation being further strengthened through the Vaccine Taskforce set up by Britain to support the discovery of a coronavirus vaccine and prepare industry supply chains to manufacture it at scale once it is developed. Lord Tariq Ahmad, the UK's Minister for South Asia and the Commonwealth, believes it is to India's credit that it has become a contributor to Gavi from being a recipient of its support.