New Delhi: India will begin commercial shipments of Covid-19 vaccines to Brazil and Morocco Friday, followed by Saudi Arabia and South Africa, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi attempts to burnish his credentials as a key global leader.
”There’s huge international demand for our vaccines,” Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla told Bloomberg TV in an interview. “We expect to see more global players cooperating with their Indian counterparts in the pharma and healthcare sectors. This is likely to go beyond shifting parts of supply chains to India. We expect to see collaborations, manufacturing and R&D tie ups in this field.”
The inoculations being exported so far have been manufactured by the Serum Institute of India Ltd. — the world’s biggest vaccine manufacturer by volume — which has partnered with AstraZeneca Plc to make at least one billion doses of their shot. Brazil has the world’s third largest coronavirus epidemic, behind India and the U.S. and has made a late start to its vaccination campaign, lagging Latin American peers including Mexico and Argentina.
India expects to house global supply chains for medicines and will work with President Joe Biden’s administration on building trade and security ties, Shringla said.
Last year, Modi vowed India’s vaccine delivery and manufacturing capacity “would be used to help all of humanity to fight the Covid-19 pandemic and it’s in keeping with this vision that we have responded positively to requests for supply of Indian manufactured vaccines from countries all over the world,” Shringla said.
India began its domestic coronavirus vaccine roll-out on Jan. 16 using both Serum’s Covishield and its indigenously-developed inoculation from Bharat Biotech International Ltd. and on Wednesday began shipping out vaccines to six neighboring countries — Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Maldives and Seychelles. It is also waiting for regulatory clearances from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius to send out the shots, the Indian foreign ministry said in a statement Tuesday.
India says it can increase its production of Covid-19 vaccines to 500 million per month for export, as it fields interest from the U.K., Belgium, and countries across the Middle East and Africa seeking access to cheaper inoculations.
Commercial supplies of Indian vaccines will go out several other countries in Africa, Latin America, the Pacific Island states and to the United Nations, Shringla said. While the initiative is part of India’s economic campaign of “self-reliance,” the country expects to partner with the U.S. on building “supply chains for medicines, sensitive technologies and minerals.”
India expects to restart talks on trade with the U.S. and is “keen to look at a limited trade deal” followed by comprehensive one, the foreign secretary added. The U.S. is India’s biggest trading partner with bilateral trade touching $150 billion in 2019.
New Delhi also hopes to work with Biden on strengthening maritime security in the Indo-Pacific and on countering terrorism, said Shringla.
India is in talks with China to “effect a possible disengagement. That process is on at the moment,” he said. “We are clear at the level of our senior leadership that we will do whatever we can to maintain that dialog and do whatever we can to secure a resolution that is in the best interest of both the countries”
India’s border conflict with China with thousands of troops stationed on their Himalayan borders, has been in a stalemate since May last year with no resolution despite several rounds of military and diplomatic level talks. – Bloomberg
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.
But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.
ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.