Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday stressed on mutual recognition of ‘vaccine certificates‘ by the nations around the world in order to ease international travels and thus to reduce economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Modi’s call for mutual recognition of the vaccine certificates by the nations came amid the ongoing tiff between New Delhi and London over the new travel rules the British government introduced recently, refusing to recognize the documents issued to the people, who received Covid-19 jabs under his government’s inoculation programme in India.
The Prime Minister delivered a speech at a Covid-19 global summit hosted by the US President Joe Biden. He sought support for the proposal moved by India and South Africa at the World Trade Organization (WTO) for waiving off the Intellectual Property Rights protection on Covid-19 drugs and vaccines as well as on diagnostics to detect SARS-CoV-2 infections.
‘This will enable rapid scaling up of the fight against the pandemic,’ he said, adding: ‘We also need to focus on addressing the pandemic economic effects. To that end, international travel should be made easier, through mutual recognition of vaccine certificates.’
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Modi said that his government was helping augment capacity for production of existing Covid-19 vaccines in India, even as the country’s pharmaceutical companies were developing new jabs to protect people from the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
‘As our production increases, we will be able to resume vaccine supply to others too. For this, the supply chains of raw materials must be kept open,’ the Prime Minister said.
He apparently sought to send out the message that New Delhi’s recent decision to restart sending out the Covid-19 vaccines produced in India was conditional on the US and other nations ensuring continuing supply of the raw materials required for production of the jabs.
The Modi government sent out 107.15 lakh doses of the Made-in-India vaccines to foreign nations as grant till April 22 this year, in addition to the 357.92 lakh doses exported commercially and 198.628 lakh doses contributed to the COVAX, an initiative launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) for equitable distribution of the antidote against the SARS-CoV-2 infection. It, however, paused its ‘Vaccine-Maitri’ initiative after the shortage of the jabs came to the fore during the brutal second Covid-19 wave in India and slowed down the inoculation programme in the country itself.
China stepped up supply of its vaccines to the countries in the region in order to take advantage of the void created by the restrictions imposed on export and donation of the jabs from India. The US, however, sent out a portion of its donation of surplus 80 million doses of vaccines to the Indo-Pacific region.
The Biden Administration has been over the past few months nudging the Modi government to restart sending out the Covid-19 vaccines produced in India. With the inoculation programme in the country accelerating, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Monday announced the government’s plan to restart exporting and donating vaccines from India to the countries in the neighbourhood and beyond, including through the COVAX.
The Prime Minister said that India was leveraging its manufacturing strengths to produce vaccines for the Indo-Pacific region with support from its partners in the Quad – the US, Japan and Australia.
‘India is now running the world’s largest vaccination campaign. Recently, we vaccinated about 25 million people on a single day. Our grassroot level healthcare system has delivered over 800 million vaccine dose so far,’ Modi said, adding: ‘Over 200 million Indians are now fully vaccinated. This has been enabled through the use of our innovative digital platform called CO-WIN.’