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Coronavirus crisis has displayed India as a “self-reliant” partner: Harsh Vardhan Shringla

In an address at the Ananta Aspen Centre, Mr Shringla also said that the coronavirus crisis has displayed that the rise of India as a “self-reliant” partner is good for the world.

On Tuesday, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said India will need to calibrate its external supplies of coronavirus vaccines keeping in mind its domestic needs as the rise in COVID-19 cases highlighted the need for a hastened vaccination programme.

Examining various aspects of vaccine supplies, the foreign secretary said that India is working with some of its partner countries to create secure, flexible and sustainable supply chains for itself and the world at large.

The number of vaccine doses shared with India’s partner countries so far is about the same as the number India itself used in its domestic immunisation programme, said Mr Shringla.

“The resurgence of COVID-19 cases has highlighted the need for an accelerated vaccination programme in our country, and from 1st April, we will be extending this facility to all our citizens above the age of 45 years,” he said.

“Naturally, we will need to calibrate our external supplies keeping in mind our domestic production and domestic needs,” he added.

More than 60 million doses of Made-in-India vaccines had been supplied by India to over 75 countries, including through COVAX which is a global lead aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

The foreign secretary said that as health security and health supply chains move up on the priority lists of the world, the Indian pharmaceutical industry is perfectly poised to embrace the emerging opportunities.

“The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated that the rise of India as an atmanirbhar (self-reliant) partner is good for the world. In this environment, we expect to see more global players cooperating with their Indian counterparts in the pharma and healthcare sectors,” he said.

“This is likely to go beyond shifting parts of supply chains to India. We expect to see collaborations, manufacturing and research and development tie-ups in this field,” Mr Shringla added.

He was speaking on the launch of a paper, titled “India: The World’s Pharmacy Expands Its Reach in Global Health”.

The foreign secretary also noted that India has the unique advantage of a robust IT and IT services sector to back up the delivery of health services.

In his address, the foreign secretary also referred to a proposal by the Quad member nations to use Indian manufacturing capacity, financed and supported by the other members of the grouping, to supply vaccines to the Indo-Pacific region.

“There is every expectation that the two current manufacturers will rapidly expand their manufacturing capacities to cater to the increasing domestic and external demand,” he said.

“Some of the vaccine candidates may also conclude their trial process and become available,” he added.

Mr Shringla said supply of coronavirus vaccines to the Indo-Pacific region as proposed by the summit of the Quad leaders will involve the creation of new capacities and it will not impact on India’s current vaccine production or roll-out.

Mr Shringla also said the global role played by India in responding to the pandemic and addressing the demand for pharmaceuticals, diagnostics and vaccines is an excellent demonstration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s broader vision of ”Atmanirbhar Bharat” (self-reliant India).

He said India took the lead in opening and engaging in regional and multilateral consultations to emphasise the need for countries to come together to collectively deal with the pandemic.

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