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Global South now looks up to Modi and his team for Covid 19 vaccines after India crosses 1 billion mark

Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya

It is not just India that is looking at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his team as the country administered more than one billion Covid 19 vaccine doses to its citizens. Within Modi’s core team, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, handpicked by the Prime Minister, is also grabbing international attention, especially among the global south as vaccine inequity continues to be a shocking reality.

Many countries are waiting for India to start exports of the vaccines.

Globally, low-income countries are estimated to have vaccinated less than 3 per cent of their populations though the World Health Organization’s (WHO) had set a target of inoculating 40 per cent of the global populations by the end of 2021.

Also read: As India crosses the 100 crore Covid 19 vaccine mark, focus back on economic revival

Consider this. About 7 billion vaccines have been administered globally but together the US and European Union account for nearly one billion of those doses, a blog published by the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) said.

According to the PIIE blog, for a global population of more than 7 billion, the starting point is roughly 14 billion doses. With waning immunity, some governments are already granting third doses; universal adoption could push demand to 21 billion doses. With stockpiling excess doses and some inevitable waste the overall demand is estimated at 23 billion doses of in the immediate term, it said.

“We feel India can play a big role in this. The country is already the largest vaccine manufacturer, going ahead we need to look at ways by which India can also invest in setting up vaccine manufacturing facilities in various countries in Africa,” David Ongolo, former chairman, Competition Authority of Kenya told India Narrative.

India began its vaccination drive on 16 January. In the first phase, healthcare and frontline workers were inoculated. While in the initial phase, New Delhi had been supplying vaccines to other countries including its neighbours, the brutal second wave from April-end led to acute shortage of doses.

Analysts said that India, being the global hub for vaccine manufacturing, must now focus on resumption of exports of the doses.

Also read: World Bank raises alarm over Africa's vaccine neglect–says only 2.5% of doses have reached the continent

“This is an opportunity for India, we must once again take the lead in supplying these jabs globally. Most of the low income countries are relying on India for their inoculation exercise and to be able to provide a sizeable chunk would just showcase India’s soft power strength,” an analyst with a think tank told India Narrative.

Meanwhile, Mandaviya also has to lay the roadmap to vaccinate India’s children. “Life cannot return to normal until schools are opened and we need to start the vaccination programme for the younger citizens,” a principal of a Delhi-based college said.

Until now, about 22 per cent of Indian adults are fully vaccinated while over 51 per cent have been administered with one shot.