09/23/2021, 16.40
INDIA
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Biden says QUAD countries will produce at least a billion vaccines in India

The US president spoke to the United Nations General Assembly. India will once again play a role in vaccine production, resuming exports next month. At least 45 per cent of Indians got a first dose.

 

Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – US President Joe Biden spoke to the United Nations General Assembly yesterday. In his address, he said that one way to stop the pandemic is to have vaccines produced in the most vulnerable countries.

“We are working with partner nations, pharmaceutical companies, and other manufacturers to increase their own capacity and capability to produce and manufacture safe and highly effective vaccines in their own countries,” Biden said.

Under this plan, India would play again a central role in the fight against the coronavirus. Back in April, the country’s authorities suspended vaccine exports to cope with a devastating second wave surge.

In his speech, the US president noted that QUAD[*] countries (US, Australia, Japan and India) will produce at least a billion doses in India in order to boost global supply by 2022.

South Africa is also getting help to increase its Johnson & Johnson production, the US president said, so that at least 500 million doses will be available in the African continent.

So far, the United States has donated 160 million doses through COVAX, the World Health Organisation's program that seeks to ensure equal access to immunisation for all the countries of the world.

Back in April, India ended its participation in the initiative to deal with an exponential rise in infections, which peaked on 6 May with 414,188 new cases reported in a single day. By comparison, yesterday there were “only” 31,923 cases.

Before exports were suspended, India was a key supplier of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which unlike mRNA vaccines, does not need to be kept in cold storage, thus making worldwide distribution easier.

According to COVAX, delays in the first part of the year cut vaccines global availability by 25 per cent.

On Monday, Indian Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya announced that his government would resume exporting excess vaccines in October.

In recent months, the vaccination campaign in the country picked speed; so far, more than 45 per cent of the population has had a first dose and almost 16 per cent a second one.

Two locally-produced vaccines – Covishield (under license from AstraZeneca) and Covaxin, by Bharat Biotech, an Indian pharmaceutical firm – have made this result possible.

India had exported 66 million doses before April. When Narendra Modi's government suspended exports, it was criticised for leaving other countries to face a vaccine shortage.


[*] Quadrilateral Security Dialogue.

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