India to be a part of the US’s global vaccine distribution plans

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India to be a part of the US’s global vaccine distribution plans
An aircraft from the US carries 50,000 vials of AmphotericinB arrives at Mumbai Airport.Courtesy: ANI

25-million vaccines earmarked for India and the US’s neighbour and partner countries. Modi and Harris discuss improvements in the bilateral health supply chain, including in vaccine production.

India’s outreach to the United States, firmed by the five-day visit by Indian foreign minister Dr. S Jaishankar to Washington, is paying dividends as far as further solidifying bilateral ties between the two nations are concerned.

The US informed the Indian government of its plans to make Covid-19 vaccines available to India and other nations. India will be part of a 25 million vaccine distribution to the US’s neighbours and partner countries. Washington also planned to lift some restrictions to allow other countries to buy American-made supplies for vaccine production more easily. These details were discussed over a phone call between US vice president Kamala Harris and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi. There was also a willingness between both nations to try and ensure an improvement in the bilateral health supply chain, including in vaccine production.

I must point out here that this is in line with series of high-level engagements between India and the United States. There have been three phone calls by Prime Minister, with President Biden and two summits, QUAD and climate change in the first 100 days of Biden's administration.
- Taranjot Singh Sandhu, Indian ambassador to the US

According to an official statement released by the prime minister’s office, "They highlighted the potential of the India-US partnership as well as the Quad vaccine initiative in addressing the long-term health impact of the pandemic."

Focus naturally shifted to the The Quad, an informal strategic dialogue among the United States, India, Japan and Australia, with an aim to reduce manufacturing backlogs, speed vaccination, and defeat some coronavirus mutations, a senior US administration official told Reuters.

Receiving raw materials for vaccine production

According to Reuters, a spokesman for India's foreign ministry said New Delhi was in dialogue with Washington to ensure the supply of raw materials for vaccine production. This incidentally was also discussed during Dr. Jaishankar’s recently concluded visit to Washington where he met with senior US offiicials, including US secretary of state Antony Blinken and defence secretary Lloyd Austin. According to a statement by GoI, "It is in our mutual interest to combat the global pandemic by expediting vaccination efforts."

Lauding the recent decision taken by Washington on the vaccine distribution, Indian ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu told the media, "President Biden has announced the Global Allocation Plan of 25 million vaccines. This is the first tranche out of a total of 80 million vaccines announced earlier by the United States. The distribution is under two categories - A, through the Covaxin initiative, and B, directly to neighbours and partner countries."

According to Sandhu, "Now, India will figure in both categories, and will get vaccines as per allocation under COVAX and direct supply. So first would be the COVAX initiative in which India is included in Asia. Second, through direct supply to neighbours and partner countries, that includes India, Korea, Canada and Mexico.”

Adding to the decision to push vaccines into India, the US has also removed the Defense Production Act, which means no more priority supply will now be required. This will smoothen the supply chains for vaccine manufacturing, particularly for AstraZeneca and Novavax.

Modi, Harris focus on strengthening partnership

Focusing on the recently concluded visit by top ranking Indian officials to the US and the positive discussion between officials, Sandhu pointed out that the talks between Indian prime minister Modi and US vice-president Harris were result oriented.

The two leaders, according to Sandhu, focused on efforts to strengthen the India-US partnership in vaccines, and other areas of global health and economic recovery, also discussed further Quad initiatives, including in healthcare. PM Modi also invited Harris to visit India soon after the global health situation normalises.

Indian PM Modi and US vice president Kamala Harris focused on efforts to strengthen the India-US partnership in vaccines, and other areas of global health and economic recovery, also discussed further Quad initiatives, including in healthcare.
Indian PM Modi and US vice president Kamala Harris focused on efforts to strengthen the India-US partnership in vaccines, and other areas of global health and economic recovery, also discussed further Quad initiatives, including in healthcare.Courtesy: Getty Images

The heightened diplomatic activity between Washington and New Delhi was summed up by Sandhu saying, "I must point out here that this is in line with series of high-level engagements between India and the United States. There have been three phone calls by Prime Minister, with President Biden and two summits, QUAD and climate change in the first 100 days of Biden's administration.”

It is now amply clear that Indian foreign minister Dr. S Jaishankar’s visit has paid huge dividends and, according to Sandhu, “These are reflective of the firm commitment of the political leadership of both India and the United States to work together in partnership on global issues".

Out of the 25 million vaccines, approximately 7 million vaccine doses will be supplied to Asian countries including India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan. The White House also said that it will lift Defense Production Act ratings on the AstraZeneca, Novavax, and Sanofi COVID vaccines. This is important - DPA ratings give those manufacturers priority access to vaccine making supplies, at the expense of non-US producers.

- Reuters & ANI

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