Pushing countries to keep vaccine raw material flowing, says EAM Jaishankar

India’s External Affairs minister Dr S Jaishankar has said that he has asked “some big countries” to keep raw material for COVID vaccine “flowing”. India produces 60% of global vaccines and has been termed as the “pharmacy of the world”.

Speaking at an event, he said, “Today, as foreign minister, I am pushing other countries, particularly some big countries that please keep the raw materials flowing for vaccines to be made in India”. He explained, “Can I go around the world and tell people that guys, keep your supply chains flowing towards me and by the way the end product.. I am asking you for raw material but I am not going to give you the vaccine. Look at the vaccine, your largest vaccine under production is an international product, its a co-creation, its a co-production”.

The development comes even as the US has remained non-committal on allowing the opening up of export of raw material for vaccines to India. On Monday, questions were asked to both White House spokesperson Jen Psaki and US President Joe Biden’s chief Medical Adviser Dr Anthony Fauci on the issue, but no direct answers came.

Dr Jaishankar also batted for the export of vaccines saying, those questioning it are “shortsighted”. He said, “If you get into this, why are you exporting abroad, then someone else will ask, why I am exporting to India. That is so shortsighted, only really irresponsible people, non-serious people can make some kind of argument”.

India has supplied 660.13 lakh doses of COVID vaccines to 92 countries along with UN health workers and UN Peacekeepers as of 20 April. Of this, 106.15 lakh has been supplied as a gift, 357.92 commercially, and 192.06 under the COVAX facility.

India began the export of vaccines days after it began its domestic vaccination in January, with Bhutan and Maldives being the first countries to get it as a gift. Albania was the last country as of now to get on 16th April, with a gift of 0.50 lakh doses.

He also dismissed “those who talk about why you doing this to the world”, highlighting, “It is not we are not prioritizing our people” and “when things got tough we actually spoke to the world very honestly and said look we have done our best to live up to the commitments, contractual commitments to the producers, Covax commitments, GAVI…but right now please understand I have a very situation at home, and most countries understand that”.

(With inputs from DNA India)

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