'India to soon have 1 mn doses ready for Indo-Pacific'

India to have 1 million Covid-19 vaccine doses ready for Indo-Pacific by next month, PM Modi tells Quad

The vaccine doses are produced in the country by the Biological E Limited under the Quad Vaccine Partnership

Representative image. Credit: iStock Photo

India will have one million doses of Janssen Covid-19 vaccines for Indo-Pacific nations by next month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the other leaders of the four-nation coalition during its first in-person summit in Washington D.C.

The vaccine doses are produced in the country by the Biological E Limited under the Quad Vaccine Partnership.

India and the United States also finalized the overarching Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Health and Biomedical Sciences to bolster bilateral cooperation on key areas affecting global health, including pandemic preparedness and biomedical research, to reduce the risk of future pandemics, according to a joint statement issued after the Prime Minister had a meeting with the United States President Joe Biden just before the Quad summit on Friday (local time in Washington D.C.).

Modi and Biden joined Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga for the Quad summit, which the US President hosted at the White House.

They reviewed the progress made in implementing the Quad Vaccine Partnership that they had launched during a virtual summit on March 12 this year, when they had committed the US Development Finance Corporation’s support to the Biological E Limited of India to augment capacity to produce up to one billion doses of the Covid-19 vaccines, including the one developed by the Johnson and Johnson, by the end of 2022, primarily for supply to the Indo-Pacific region, where the four nations want to the counter the hegemonic aspirations of China.

As his government announced its plan to restart sending out jabs produced in India, Modi told Biden, Suga and Morrison that one million vaccines produced by the Biological E Limited would be ready to be sent out to the Indo-Pacific nations next month. India would pay for half of the first consignment of the vaccines, while Australia, Japan and the US would provide fund for the rest.

Japan will continue to help regional partners purchase vaccines through $3.3 billion of Covid-19 Crisis Response Emergency Support Loan. Australia will deliver $212 million in grant aid to purchase vaccines for Southeast Asia and the Pacific. In addition, Australia will allocate $219 million to support last-mile vaccine rollouts and lead in coordinating the Quad’s last-mile delivery efforts in the regions, according to a joint statement issued by the four-nation coalition.

The leaders also decided that the four nations would conduct a joint pandemic-preparedness tabletop exercise in 2022.

The Quad Vaccine Partnership was aimed at countering China’s bid to use supply of the Covid-19 jabs developed by its pharmaceutical companies to South Asian and the South East Asian nations in order to expand its geopolitical influence in the region.

The Modi Government sent out over 1 crore doses of the Made-in-India vaccines to foreign nations as grant till April 22 this year, in addition to the 3.57 crore doses exported commercially and 1.98 crore doses contributed to the COVAX, an initiative launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) for equitable distribution of the antidote against the SARS-CoV-2 infection. It, however, paused its “Vaccine-Maitri” initiative after the shortage of the jabs came to the fore during the brutal second Covid-19 wave in India and slowed down the inoculation programme in the country.

China stepped up supply of its vaccines to the countries in the region in order to take advantage of the void created by the restrictions imposed on export and donation of the jabs from India.

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