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India to focus on its own vaccine needs now, ‘repurpose’ production as cases spike: Jaishankar

On a day India recorded over 1.61 lakh new cases, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar says any country under stress should address its immediate challenge of rising cases.

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New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar Tuesday said it will be a “legitimate” step for India if it addresses its Covid vaccine needs first to meet the immediate challenge of rising coronavirus cases in the country even as he defended the Modi government’s efforts to help other nations with their vaccine requirements.

This comes at a time when the government has come under criticism for exporting vaccines to countries around the world while it is facing an imminent shortage within the country with some states already alleging a lack of doses.

“Equitable access is critically important as we all know that no one will be safe unless everyone is safe. While we know that we don’t practice it. Quite honestly the global tendency has been to circle the wagons and say, well, I’m going to look at myself, mostly. I understand that. I am not against that. I think if any country is under stress, if numbers are going up, which by the way they are for us right now, I think it is completely legitimate that we apply, repurpose our production to where the immediate challenge is,” he said at the Raisina Dialogue 2021, organised jointly by the Ministry of External Affairs and Observer Research Foundation (ORF).

Since March, India has been witnessing a steady rise in cases, now averaging about a lakh new infections on a daily basis. As of 8am Tuesday morning, the country recorded 1.61 lakh new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, while the recovery rate dropped to 89.51 per cent.

Also read: Bodies are piling up at crematoriums & they’re raising capacity as it’s likely to get worse

‘Helping is the decent thing to do’

Defending India’s ‘Vaccine Maitri’ initiative under which the country has exported Covid vaccines to over 80 nations, Jaishankar spoke about how India follows the values of international cooperation, which is “not just being good, but also being smart”.

“For those who actually question the international cooperation, I want people to also understand this — that our ability to make vaccines is itself a result of international cooperation. So, international cooperation is not a one-way street where we are giving things to other people and somewhere short-changing ourselves, I think people need to understand that … Helping others is the decent thing to do,” he said.

He added that in India, vaccine manufacturers had contractual commitments as well as a commitment to COVAX, the WHO programme under which India has been helping neighbouring countries and African and Caribbean nations among others access vaccines.

“For small countries, it isn’t just the ability to buy, they don’t actually have the wherewithal to actually access the market. So, I think it’s important … In my view, the real debates of globalisation has been the equity and fairness of globalisation,” he said.

Jaishankar also said India will bring in “additional capabilities” and ramp up the production of vaccines as it plays a larger role in the world because the country “embraces the world” and “believes in international cooperation. “Whether it’s hydroxychloroquine or whether it’s vaccines, we’ve stepped forward,” the top minister said.

(Edited by Manasa Mohan)

Also read: The science behind the Sputnik V vaccine & decoding India’s disastrous second wave

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  1. Dear Anti govt writer. Anybody with 50 percent brains can see through the cheap rubbish you publish. So I do not think anybody is paying for this work because it is so far from facts my 3 yaer grandson can spot. Love from a bawaji.

  2. The Government needs to concentrate its own states like Maharashtra which is suffering the worst wave in the country have access to vaccines from the center. Doesnt take a genius to figure out there is discrimination with Maharashtra having a population of 12 Cr, 30 Lakh active cases 60000 deaths receiving just 1 crore doses which is equal to the doses received by Gujarat and Rajasthan with 6 Cr of population and only 5000 daily cases. To make matters worse the central government is now allocating 17 lakh doses to Maharashtra and 40 lakh to Gujarat and UP?

    Maharashtra should start its own vaccine production at this rate.

  3. Only big talks from these air bags.
    Just like with China issue.
    At one time, India was seen to be headed to produce half of the world’s requirements.
    About five billions.
    Today, it cannot even supply for its old people.
    The production around a mere six to eight millions per month.
    We had one full year to ramp up production, assist Serum, Dr Reddy’s Lab, Gland etc.
    Nothing was actually done.
    Only tactiturn delays.
    These were Videshi vaccines. They wanted, Bharatiya, Swadeshi, Coronil!
    Hence, in dire shortages now as so many have already died for not getting timely vaccines.
    The orders too were not given for production until the eleventh January, even as loaded trucks waited to start their journey.
    SII was arm twisted to agree to a paltry lowest rate in the world. This effectively paid put to any hopes of capacity addition.
    The PM and others were more interested in only winning elections and conslidating power.
    Why worry about a population that seemed happy in the Opium of polarization?
    Approval to Sputnik was delayed until there was a chorus in the web media.
    Pfizer applied months ago but nothing has happened.
    J&J is waiting for approval to start ‘Bridging Tests!’
    Whatever quantity that we are getting from SII is not because of the Government.
    It is inspite of them.
    Providence gave us an egalitarian Poonawala soul, who instead of being feted, has to measure his words before speaking.
    Had it not been for these Bawajis, we would have stuck with Coronil and few Covaxins.

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