US denies India’s request to lift an export ban on raw materials needed to make COVID-19 vaccines
The US State Department said that the US is focusing on vaccinating the American people when asked about sending raw materials to India for vaccine production. The response comes after the Serum Institute of India asked the US to lift an export ban on these materials, a request that has yet to be met.
India is currently facing the world’s worst surge in coronavirus infections, which has led to a clamour for vaccines. The country with the world’s biggest vaccine-making capacity has also stopped major exports to meet domestic demand.
Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar confirmed that the government was trying to address the raw materials matter but that it was important for India to meet its export commitments too.
On the other hand, Washington has invoked the Defense Production Act to preserve vaccine raw materials for its own companies, but the Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s biggest vaccine maker, has said this went against the global goal of sharing vaccines equitably.
Asked about the restrictions on exports, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said inequities in access to vaccines were “completely unacceptable”, but declined to detail additional U.S. action to address that.
India Supplied Over 45 million doses of Covid vaccine to the world
India began its ‘Vaccine Maitri’ to supply Covid vaccine to different nations almost a one-and-a-half-month ago. The country has delivered around 45.6 million doses of ‘Made in India’ Covid vaccines to 45 countries during the period.
Following requests from various countries for the supply of Indian-manufactured vaccines, the government had started the supply of Covid vaccine on January 20 to Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, and Seychelles under the grant assistance.
External Affairs Ministry had stated that this is being done in keeping with India’s stated commitment to using India’s vaccine production and delivery capacity to help all of the human fight the Covid pandemic.
Of the 45.6 million doses, 38.47 million doses were commercial supplies and 7.12 million doses were granted to other countries.
Neighbouring Bangladesh is the major recipient of Covid vaccines from India till now. India supplied around 9 million doses of Covid vaccines to Bangladesh. Of this, 7 million doses were commercial supplies. Bangladesh got 2 million doses of vaccines as grant assistance on January 21. This was followed by additional 5 million and 2 million doses of commercial supplies on January 25 and February 22, respectively.
Morocco was the second major recipient during the period. India made commercial supplies of 2 million, 4 million and 1 million doses of the vaccine to that country on January 22, February 11 and February 24, respectively.
Brazil, one of the worst-hit countries by the Covid pandemic, also received around 4 million doses of commercial supplies from India during January and February. The Brazilian President Jair M Bolsonaro took to Twitter on January 22 to thank India with a tweet with a picture of Hanuman carrying a mountain of Covid vaccine from India to Brazil.
In that tweet, Bolsonaro said: “Namaskar, Prime Minister @narendramodi
Brazil feels honoured to have a great partner to overcome a global obstacle by joining efforts.
Thank you for assisting us with the vaccines exports from India to Brazil.
While announcing the gift of 200,000 doses to UN Peacekeepers while speaking at the United Nations Security Council discussions on Covid vaccines, S Jaishankar, External Affairs Minister, had suggested the need to stop ‘vaccine nationalism’, urged the need to promote internationalism, and had asked to ensure equitable distribution of the vaccine.
Today when India is struggling with rising number of cases the international media seems to enjoy its plight while the so-called powerful country imposes raw material ban to derail vaccine manufacturing in India.
About the Author
Prithiva Gupta is a software engineer by profession and a writer by passion. Music, food, and poetry are her go-to things. Facts over fiction is her thumb rule.