August 4, 2021
The restrictions on the IP waiver caused a major distress to several countries requiring aid with the production and distribution of vaccines.
Keeping in line with its decision to provide free vaccines to the underprivileged, the US has offered to extend further vaccine support to India.
At present, India has two approved home grown vaccines, namely Covishield (developed by SRI) and Covaxin (developed by Bharat Biotech).
Aid provided by the country’s public and private sector can provide a significant boost to the production of vaccines.
The Quad countries, which comprise of Australia, India, Japan and the United States arrived at a joint decision- to enable the production of a minimum of 1 billion doses of Covid vaccines for India by the end of 2022. This comes as an extension of the commitment of the Quad leaders to ensure that one billion vaccines were provided to Southeast Asia during their first virtual summit. Reiterating the earlier commitment of the US to provide vaccinations free of cost to the less privileged across the world, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki addressed the reporters at her daily news conference and mentioned that the Quad partnership was in line with aiding the acceleration of the production of at least 1 billion doses of vaccines in India for the Asia region. She also added that, so far, the US has provided around 110 million vaccines to the world and that the 500 million doses of Pfizer vaccine it has procured will be distributed as well.
The decision comes as a welcome relief to India which suffered a major impact due to the second wave of COVID-19, since the restrictions on intellectual property protections on vaccines would prolong the progress on vaccine development to tackle future variants of SARS-CoV-2 or for the possible emergence of a third wave. The consequence of the earlier decision of the US to prioritise the production domestic usage was a shortage for India in the raw material for vaccine production. Currently, India is vaccinating its citizens with two vaccines, Covishield (developed by the Serum Research Institute, Pune) and Covaxin (developed by Bharat Biotech, Hyderabad). Additionally, around 4-5 vaccines are in the advanced clinical stages of development. With approximately two dozen vaccine production units, both the public and private sector in the country have units that can aid the expansion of the domestic production of vaccines.