US and India Collaboration to Fight the COVID-19 and Climate Change

India and the US share an ingenuous relationship, with multi-sectoral engagement in areas such as defence, commercial relations, energy, environment, technology, and health. The two nations signed 2 MoUs in the area of healthcare.

April 27, 2021

US is the third-largest contributor of foreign direct investments (FDI) to India and the second-largest recipient of FDI from India.

India and the US share long-standing bilateral relations and have historically supported each other in times of need.

The two nations elevated their ties to “comprehensive global strategic partnership”, which marks a milestone in India-US ties.

The Quad, comprising the United States, India, Australia and Japan is envisioned as a force for global good.

As two of the world’s oldest and largest democracies,  India and the United States make natural allies. Not only is the US the third-largest contributor of foreign direct investments (FDI) to India ( as of December 2020), it is also the second-largest recipient of FDI from India. India and the US share a broad based relationship, with multi-sectoral engagement in areas such as defence, commercial relations, energy, environment, technology, and health. In 2020, during the difficult circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, India and the US signed two important  Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) in 2020 in the area of  healthcare – specifically, mental health and drug safety.

Engagement Amidst the Pandemic

India and the US share long-standing bilateral relations and have historically supported each other in times of need. Recently, the two nations elevated their ties to a “comprehensive global strategic partnership”, which marks a milestone in India-US ties. With a shared strategic outlook, the US and India have embarked on strategic regional cooperation, increasing the quality and volume of their engagement. 

In February this year, US President Joe Biden announced contribution of US$2 billion to the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility (COVAX), which is part of an international effort that aims to support access to vaccines in low and middle-income countries. In collaboration with other partners,  the United States is working with governments and the private sector in their efforts to drive  to COVID-19 vaccination.  The US has already committed to the release of an additional US$2 billion to COVAX through 2022.

With the unprecedented impact of rapidly escalating numbers of COVID-19 cases in India during the deadly second wave, the United States has extended its support, providing much needed raw materials for the manufacture of the COVID vaccine, as an emergency protocol. With the shared vision of  battling the pandemic successfully, the US has helped identify suppliers of raw materials for the manufacture of vaccines in addition to therapeutics, rapid diagnostic test kits, ventilators, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Quad for the Greater Good

One significant manifestation of this strategic relationship is the establishment of the Quad, comprising the United States, India, Australia, and Japan. The Quad is envisioned as a force for global good. Quad members are united by shared democratic values and a commitment to a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific region. 

The US and other Quad nations are working to help strengthen vaccination efforts across the Indo-pacific region by ramping up production of US developed vaccines in India. 

The genesis of the Quad partnership lies in the countries’ humanitarian response in the wake of  the earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean in 2004.  In the recent past, the Quad nations have held close consultations on issues such as maritime security, cybersecurity, and countering disinformation. They have also cooperated on counterterrorism, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief.

At the first leaders’ summit of the Quad Together, the group  announced a  new vaccine partnership. As part of this, the United States and Quad nations are working to help strengthen vaccination efforts across the Indo-pacific region by ramping up production of US developed vaccines in India. 

Working together,  the Quad nations aim to build a new joint ambitious partnership that not only promises to boost vaccine manufacturing for global benefit, but it will also strengthen vaccinations to benefit the entire Indo-Pacific. In line with this, the US is also committed to expand financing for Hyderabad-based firm BioE. 

Fighting Climate Change

One of the big drivers for cooperation for the Quad nations is climate change. Leaders of all Quad nations including US President Joe Biden and Prime Ministers Narendra Modi of India, Yoshihide Suga of Japan and Scott Morrison of Australia are aligned on their commitment to fighting climate change. 

Climate change is also an important focus area for cooperation between the US and India. In recent months, the US and India have launched the India-US Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 partnership. Through this, the two nations hope to mobilise investments, demonstrate clean technologies, and enable green collaboration. 

Regional Cooperation

The US and India, along with the Quad nations, also aim to support the rule of law across the Indo-Pacific region. This includes addressing the challenges to rules-based maritime order in the East and South China Seas and supporting the restoration of democracy in Burma. In addition, the Quad is also committed to ensuring technological innovation is consistent with a free and open Indo-Pacific.

In the future too, the India-US relationship promises to be strong and vibrant. In 2021, both nations hope to seek more collaboration opportunities and broaden their partnership further.