India gets financial support to produce one billion Covid-19 vaccines

Published March 14, 2021
In this file photo, a ground staff walks past a container kept at the Cargo Terminal 2 of the Indira Gandhi International Airport, which according to the officials would be used as a Covid-19 vaccine handling and distribution centre. — Reuters
In this file photo, a ground staff walks past a container kept at the Cargo Terminal 2 of the Indira Gandhi International Airport, which according to the officials would be used as a Covid-19 vaccine handling and distribution centre. — Reuters

WASHINGTON: The United States, Japan and Australia have decided to manufacture Covid-19 vaccines in India as part of their joint effort to fight back the coronavirus pandemic that has already killed more than 2.5 million people across the globe.

Australia, India, Japan and the United States are members of an informal strategic forum known as the Quad that aims to counter China’s growing influence in the Asia-Pacific region. In a joint statement issued after the Quad’s first virtual summit on Friday, the member states said they were “working collaboratively to achieve expanded manufacturing of safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines at facilities in India.”

US President Joe Biden also attended the virtual meeting, along with the prime ministers of Australia, India and Japan and vowed to reinvigorate alliances in the face of growing worries about China.

The joint statement, issued in Washington by the White House, said that producing the vaccines in India would prioritize increased capacity for the vaccine. The Quad partners will also “address financing and logistical demands for production, procurement, and delivery of safe and effective vaccines,” the statement added.

Gavi, a partner in the UN vaccine initiative, announced last week that the vaccines it has arranged for free inoculation of 45 million people in Pakistan are also being manufactured in India. Reports in the US media said the Quad initiative for making the vaccines in India would produce up to one billion doses by 2022.

Under the Quad plan, manufacturers in India would make the single-dose vaccine from US-based Johnson & Johnson, backed by financial support from Japan, with Australia taking charge of shipments.

Quad partners are aiming to distribute the made-in India vaccines in Southeast Asia where China is already distributing its own version of the vaccine.

“Together, Quad leaders are taking shared action necessary to expand safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing in 2021 and will work together to strengthen and assist countries in the Indo-Pacific with vaccination,” the White House statement said. The Quad intends to coordinate its plan with the existing relevant multilateral mechanisms including WHO and COVAX.

The United States Development Finance Corporation (DFC), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and Japan Bank of International Cooperation (JBIC) and other similar institutions would provide financial support.

The United States, through the DFC, will work with Biological E Ltd., to finance increased capacity to support Biological E’s effort to produce at least 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2022 with Stringent Regulatory Authorization (SRA) and/or World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Use Listing (EUL), including the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Published in Dawn, March 14th, 2021

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