India is in talks with top US vaccine makers Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson to explore the possibility of local manufacturing of their Covid-19 vaccines in order to speed up the inoculation drive in the country.
“We are also part of the discussions with major vaccine manufacturers like Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Moderna about sourcing and possible local manufacturing of their vaccines in India. We have also helped to expedite the introduction of Sputnik-V vaccines,” India’s foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said at a WHO meeting on Thursday.
“Vaccines have complex supply chains. We have worked to ease regulatory disruptions to these supply chains with key partners through diplomatic interventions,” Shringla said.
Speaking at the WHO’s South-East Asia Regional Health Partners’ Forum on Covid-19, Shringla said that India is also looking forward to the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) approval for the indigenous vaccine Covaxin, manufactured by Bharat Biotech.
India is expecting a supply of 2 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines between August and December, enough to vaccinate the entire adult population of the country. Last week, NITI Aayog member VK Paul had said that the government was working with Pfizer for the earliest possible import of the Covid vaccine following indications from the US pharma company that it had the vaccine available from July. Pfizer’s indemnity request which was posing a major hurdle is also being looked into by the government.
He further said that India is fighting an ‘exceptionally severe’ second wave of the pandemic that has resulted in ‘unprecedented economic and social disruptions and distress’.
The Ministry of external affairs (MEA) has been working towards procuring essential raw materials and medical supplies to combat Covid-19, he said.
“We have adapted rapidly to virtual diplomacy during the pandemic period. The Prime Minister has conducted over 12 virtual summits and more than 75 virtual bilaterals. External Affairs Minister and the Ministry have conducted literally hundreds of ministerials, joint commissions, multilateral engagements, Foreign Office Consultations, Senior Officials Meetings, etc,” he said.
Going forward, India will participate in the process of creating global scale capacities that are needed to deal with pandemic scale challenges. “A number of serious global conversations are underway on this in platforms such as the G7, the G20, QUAD, BRICS, the United Nations and the WHO itself,” he added.
India is also working with several other countries in the World Trade Organisation (WHO) on a targeted and temporary waiver under Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) to ensure timely and secure access to vaccines for all.